• As FEBWE seeks to improve business climate for women 

Bennie Bravo Johnson, G

The Federation of Businesswomen Entrepreneurs (FEBWE) is conducting the first Liberian Women in Business Dialogue on Liberia’s Business Climate roundtable discussion with sponsorship from the US State Department’s POWER Program.

The purpose is to strengthen Liberia’s business environment for women.

The discussion took place at Fuzion entertainment complex on 14th Street in Sinkor, Monrovia, on Thursday, April 7, 2022. FEBWE will organize five roundtables in Liberia and the Liberian diaspora in the United States and Canada, all of which will be exclusively for Liberian female business entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Charlene Carey, one of the dialogue’s coordinators, explained that the dialogue aims to cover five subject areas, including business registration, access to finance, trade, and investment in women’s leadership and good governance.

She claims that the roundtable discussions will give a venue for Liberian businesswomen and Liberians in the diaspora to identify the problems of doing business in Liberia and develop proposals for improving the business climate for women entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Carey went on to say that the dialogue’s proposals will be concrete and long-term activities that contribute to the Liberian economy’s progress.

“They will also serve as a roadmap for lobbying with the legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly.”

She alluded that the power project, which was brought into being in 2019 by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the US State Department, was launched as a new State Department initiative to promote women’s economic empowerment called “POWER.” “POWER is Providing Opportunities for Women’s Economic Rise Program”.

The initiative leverages diplomatic resources to promote women in business and works with the private sector to establish professional networks and business environments focused on promoting women’s economic empowerment in a global context.

Mrs. Charlene Carey further explained that the roadmap for achieving the POWER project for business women will be hosted through five roundtable dialogues with female business owners only.

One will be held online for Liberian female business owners in the United States and Canada, while the other will be held at the US Embassy with key government officials, heads of business organizations, and a few female business owners.

Based on the roundtables, we will develop an action plan of measurable and sustainable recommendations to improve the business climate for women. The action plan will serve as a roadmap for lobbying with the legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly. We need your help. “Join FEBWE, volunteer, follow us online (website, social media, etc.) to help lobby our legislature,” she said.

At the same time, Mrs. Carey climaxed by thanking the US State Department’s Power for the grant to carry out these activities and the US Embassy’s Economic team for providing technical support and advice.

Meanwhile, the businesswomen in attendance at the first dialogue expressed their dismay and disgust at the challenges business owners go through in getting their articles of incorporation and business registration, alleging that in order to get those documents, one must give a kick-back at every table. Some things they see as corruption at the foreign ministry and business registry, respectively.

The women in attendance further asserted that there were many challenges they faced during the registration process. They asserted that the lack of a website that gives a full projection about how the registration process is, and the difficulties in getting the rightful person to sign a document.

For her part, Mrs. Joelie Gordon, a Canadian businesswoman and the managing director of Abundant Rain Incorporated, stated that, “I have been in Liberia for over twelve years now and I feel more like a Liberian now.” However, in order to register a business, you must tip everyone you meet along the way.

Mrs. Gordon further stated that the renewal of business registration every year is a major problem that Liberian businesses face.

It’s not just the first registration, it’s the renewal every year. “COVID-19 came and everything was shot down, and my renewal was delayed by a month because the offices were closed, and I was fined a hundred dollars for being late for renewal,” she alleged.

In addition, Mrs. Deawula J. Tarr-Sherman, Creative Director of the Deawula Cultural Artistic Chic Brand, stressed the importance of the registry, disclosing the entire registration process for the business community while at the same time praising the registry for making the registration for Liberian businesses affordable for everyone to have their business registered.

Meanwhile, as the dialogue concluded in the crocus section, FEBWE recommends that there is a need to improve the mailing system of Liberia to promote Liberian businesses for both internal and external marketing and also outlines the need for regular staff training in every capacity to improve the business and the customer and business relationship.

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