The Ministry of Commerce will this week hold its annual SME conference which will commence with activities by GIZ, to climax with the annual tradition of the conference opening and closing by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Boakai.
A release said the President and Vice President will be accompanied by members of the Cabinet, Legislature and the Judiciary.
They are expected to address Liberian entrepreneurs, business executives, local and international partners, members of the diplomatic corps, youths and a cross-section of stakeholders at the Liberian Marketplace, Nancy B. Doe Jorkpen Town Market, 8th Street, Sinkor.
The release said this year's annual MSME Conference will be held under the theme "From Vision to Implementation, Buying Liberian, Building Liberia" with a special focus on "Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Liberia."
The release said since its inception in 2013, the SBA MSME Conference has focused on different topics and allowed MSMEs to explore partnerships and receive financing to expand their operations.
The conference is said to have facilitated over US$42 million in public procurement from SMEs in FY2015/2016 and led to several innovations, such as the Small Business Empowerment Act which created the Small Business Administration, the E+ project, the Lofa Women Weaving Center, and the Liberian Marketplace, funded through the Liberia Innovation Fund for Entrepreneurs (LIFE).
"Each year, the conference has had a specific focus. Last year's conference centered around 'Women Entrepreneurship' and covered topics such as financing options available for MSMEs; the role of Government in support of MSMEs; challenges and opportunities faced by MSMEs today. The theme for 2015 emphasized 'Youth Innovation for Economic Empowerment' and was a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their creativity and innovations at the Trade Fair. This year's emphasis is on Information Communication and Technology (ICT) and will showcase ICT professionals/innovators who have developed business solutions that can resolve challenges and transform businesses in Liberia," the release said.
This year's conference will again be the annual flagship conference organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and provide opportunities for capacity building, product exhibition, networking with investors, partners and clients and business linkage events.
With the Business Competition, the conference also provides the chance for innovative Liberian ICT professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs to win US$20,000 prizes through a business competition in which applicants showcase their solutions that help solve community and business problems.
The release said "four prizes of US$5,000 each will be awarded in the following categories: Agribusiness, E-commerce, Education and eGovernment. Besides showcasing ICT innovations, in partnership with Mercy Corps and the Embassy of Sweden, the second annual E+ Second Class Business Plan competition will be launched. E+ is a flagship program that selects, train and promotes ten entrepreneurs through a competitive process that results in grants of $100 thousand to be shared among the winners of E+ to start their own businesses."