Liberia: Business Alliance Maiden Meeting in Focus

24 November 2020

The maiden townhall of the Liberian Business Alliance took place on November 18, 2020 via zoom. The townhall interaction brought together Liberian business owners & professionals in the United Kingdom & Ireland and was chaired by the Founder & President of the network Mrs. Sabrina Clarke-Okwubanego.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Sabrina Clarke-Okwubanego welcomed the audience and gave the historicity of the organization from it's inception to present, stating that this is a dream that she has had for a few years and is glad to see it come to reality. She recounted that she had been attending business functions/events across the United Kingdom over the years and felt that Liberians should be hosting business functions like these and creating business opportunities. Hence, when she first shared the vision with others, she was quite shocked at the negative reactions and words of discouragement that she received.

But, because she believes in the vision of forming this network, she persevered, despite the negativities and drawbacks. She went on to outline the mission and objectives of the network. In this regard, she informed the townhall that the Liberian Business Alliance is dedicated to establishing a network of Liberian business owners and professionals in the United Kingdom & Ireland who are committed to the development & economic empowerment of Liberia. Thus, in line with it's mission, the objectives of the network are to build, support and invest in Liberian Businesses in the UK & Ireland and the Republic of Liberia.

To collaborate in a non-partisan way with governments, community leaders, business groups, corporations, partners invested in moving the Liberian diaspora community in the U K & Ireland and Liberia forward, as well as to create a world-class Liberian supply chain in the U K & Ireland. Mrs. Clarke-Okwubanego, who is also the owner of two business in the United Kingdom, including Build Global Ltd, then outlined the membership criteria for business owners and the membership criteria for professionals. She went on to highlight the benefits to members as follow:

Benefits;

Liberian Business Alliance members will I) have access to exclusive Liberian Business Alliance opportunities and rewards 2)Have a platform to build professional and capable networks across sector and industry 3) Be profiled across the networks' social media and communications channels 4) Be registered in the business directory (business owners only) 5) Attend master classes and skills building sessions at no additional cost 6) Have the opportunity to pitch their business to investors

7) Have the opportunity to invest in Liberian business

As part of the itinerary of the town hall, the organization's President introduced the rest of the leadership to the Liberian community. Giving brief remarks, Mr. Chris Peters, a seasoned Photographic Journalist & Film Producer, who has worked with the BBC and other international media corporations, informed the body, that with his academic knowledge & vast experience in media technology, including film production and digital media, the Liberian Business Alliance can count on him, to efficiently utilize his expertise as Head of Media & Technology of the network.

Dr. Precious Toe, one Liberia's top gospel musical artist, who serves as Community Liaison of the network, gave the participants a brief on her qualifications and experience in the legal field and education. She recalled that she and Sabrina had attended a number of business events around the U K, organized by other nationalities, and wondered why they could hardly see many Liberians; many of the times they were the only Liberians in attendance. So, when Mrs. Sabrina Clarke-Okwubanego, came up with the idea of forming the Liberian Business Alliance, she was happy to be a part of it. Regarding her term of reference as Community Liaison, Dr. Toe said that she will be a major point of contact between the Liberian Community, regularly liaising with them. So as to ensure a smooth relationship between our community and the Liberian Business Alliance.

For his part Mr. Victor T. Andrews head of Marketing & Communications of the Liberian Business Alliance, expressed joy for serving in the capacity of Marketing & Communications and informed his fellow compatriots that his role is to ensure that our darling nation Liberia and the Liberian Business Alliance are on the minds and lips of each and every Liberian in the United Kingdom, Republic of Liberia and the world as a whole.

He also thanked the network's President for such a patriotic brainchild of hers. Mr. Andrews, who is also the Chairman of the Liberian Community Organization UK (LICO), reminded his fellow compatriots that, because he is convinced of the abilities, patriotism and capacities of the Liberian community in the U K &Ireland, that is why he is happy to encourage Liberians to work along with LBA in the economic development of our darling nation Liberia and the empowerment of our dear fellow Liberians, as enshrined in the objectives & mission of LBA. He said as we all know, the responsibility of developing our darling nation Liberia is not just for Liberians back home, rather, it is equally the responsibility of all Liberians in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the entire diaspora. Mr. Andrews emphasized that Liberia is blessed with enormous natural mineral resources and most importantly, some of the best human resources, so, we Liberians simply need to be resolved in our determination to uplift our darling nation Liberia.

Speaking further, during the townhall interaction, Mr. Phamollie S. Jabateh a Liberian entrepreneur in the U K, commended the organization's President, while expressing delight for the coming into being of the Liberian Business Alliance. Mr. Jabateh, who together with his business partner own and operate a two companies in the U K, one being Afrisusu Initiative and the other is involved in shipping to Africa, said that as Liberians, they really want to be part of the economic development of Liberia, so when he sees such an organization coming into being to empower Liberians in the U K, Ireland and Liberia, he is willing to join LBA and work along in order to contribute to mama Liberia. Mr. Jabateh also, encourage the leadership of LBA to continue to engage the Liberian community in the U K & Ireland, as that will help in achieving all that it is working towards.

For her part, Mrs. Estelle Richards, commended the leadership of the organization, calling it a brilliant initiative. Mr. Rolland Ballah a farmer and Secretary General of ULO-UK, thanked the President of LBA and those who have brought the network into being. He said that he was very happy that in spite of the many negatives and words of discouragement that she(LBA President) had when she first had the vision to start this very good organization, she did not give up and today the vision has been realized. Agriculturist Mr.

Ballah went on to say that when they see this(initiative), they feel encouraged, because, at times it seems really challenging, but, once it is in the interest of our community and nation Liberia, we have to remain determined and united, so, he is willing to work with the Liberian Business Alliance in the achievement of it's objectives and so is ULO-UK. He promised to convey the outcome of the townhall to his colleagues and members.

Cllr. Alpha B. Collins, a Liberian FIFA badged (Player) Agent and a leader of one of the large boroughs in the suburbs just outside London, expressed high gratitude to the leaders of Liberian Business Alliance and pledge his unwavering support to the network in helping it to bring it's vision into reality and to achieve it's objectives. Cllr. Collins went forward to say that the organization should always feel free to contact him, for it is initiatives and inspiration like these that we Liberians need to help move our country Liberia forward and improve the livelihood of our people.

Ms. Emily E. Erskine Founder & CEO of Arise From Ashes, (a Liberian resident in mainland Europe), informed the panellist that she is quite impressed with the initiative(LBA) and wish the team all the best. As the overwhelming appreciation continued from the participants, during the townhall, Annie Mahn, a professional Dental Nurse and Secretary General of the Liberia Medical & Dental Association U K, applauded the leadership of LBA for the worthwhile undertaking, stating " very much appreciated, well done, great vision and I am glad to be a part of this". She furthered that in her representation of the Liberia Medical & Dental Association U K, she will convey the message to their association.

Also commenting, Mrs. Lena Marshall, a Liberian resident in the midlands England, gave the President and leadership of the Liberian Business Alliance the thumbs up for creating the organization and pledged her commitment to work with the organization.

In her closing remarks, the President of Liberian Business Alliance, Mrs. Sabrina Clarke-Okwubanego, thanked the participants/panelist at the townhall for taking time off their busy schedules to engage with the leadership of the network as the network seeks to achieve it's mission and objectives. She reminded her compatriots that the Alliance is open and willing to work with any organization or individual who's operations and work are evaluated to be in line with the goals and objectives of the Liberian Business Alliance, while reminding them that the next major event will be the official launch of the network in February 2021 and that they will be kept updated. She concluded "I can summarize today by saying we have taken our first step in moving(Liberia) forward together".

Slated for February 24, 2021, the official launch of the Liberian Business Alliance will take place via zoom and will bring together, Liberian business owners and professionals in the United Kingdom, Republic of Liberia, Ireland and Liberians from all over the world, together with heavyweight business investors/leaders, diplomats, as well as small & medium business owners, governmental &non-governmental personalities.

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