MONROVIA, Montserrado â€“ Twelve Liberian companies have received sponsorship to travel to the African Growth and Opportunity Act Expo and Trade Fair in New York.
The companies received pledges of US$2,500 each during a Made in Liberia contest held on Monday, August 27 where entrepreneurs had to pitch their products. The fair is scheduled to take place September 25-30.
The Made in Liberia Pitching Contest organized by the Liberia Chamber of Commerce and the Ezzat N. Eid Foundation as a fundraising event aiming to help Liberian entrepreneurs who were producing locally made products.
It brought together dozens of Liberian and foreign business executives. A total of 23 companies participated in the event where they were allotted three minutes each to pitch their products.
The 12 companies selected to travel to the AGOA trade fair included J-Palm, Patom Enterprise, Fabrar Liberia Incorporated, Zoequoi, John St. Paul River, and Bravo Sister Enterprise. Others are Tesap, Liberia Business Incubator, Naz Naturals, Res Organics, and Solie Enterprise.
Wendell Addy, the president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, whose membership comprises of top companies and business associations, said the business community came to the event to showcase their support for Liberian-made products.
â€œWe believe that this is a unique initiative â€“ that all Liberians, the government, its international partners, and other stakeholders [should] embrace our economy,â€ he said.
For his part, Ezzat N. Eid said his foundation recently partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to organize the pitching contest between established entrepreneurs.
â€œThis program could be a life-changing event for the entrepreneurs, who have taken raw materials in Liberia and transformed them into finished products to be showcased to the largest economy, the United States,â€ he added.
Jeanine M. Cooper, who founded Liberiaâ€™s largest local commercial rice producer, Fabrar Liberia, was one of those whose companies were selected to attend the trade fair.
She described the event as necessary because while Liberian entrepreneurs were now starting to produce items with export value, the country â€œis hardly exporting anything.â€
One of the reasons for this, Cooper noted, is the lack of an export council in Liberia, which would be focused on promoting the countryâ€™s exports.
â€œLiberians needs to get back into their habit of producing locally made products, which was lost as a result of the decade-long civil crisis,â€ Cooper added. â€œLiberians need to get back to their export footing.â€
Musa G. Brown, head of the Liberia Business Incubator, had also secured sponsorship to travel to the U.S. He said he would not actually showcase his own products, but those being produced by others to demonstrate what the country can produce.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah