Tubmanburg — It was a room filled with optimism at the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation’s conference hall in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, when USAID, in partnership with the Africa Trade and Investment Program launched the application process for an agribusiness incubator.
The USAID Liberia agribusiness incubator, launched on June 16 is being implemented by iCampus, the Business Start-up Center (BSC) Monrovia, and Agro-Tech Liberia under cohort one, Lot C comprises the five project counties including Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Lofa. Application is now in progress and expired on June 30, 2023.
The project seeks to support interested entrepreneurs with the best agribusiness ideas in these five counties through access to technical assistance, mentorship, and co-financing of up to US$50,000.
Speaking at the launch in Tubmanburg, the Deputy USAID Mission Director in Liberia, Rory Donohoe, rallied potential applicants in the agribusiness sector to make use of the opportunity.
“I encourage you all to apply, participate, and take the knowledge you have, get it to work, create jobs and wealth for yourself, and allow people to eat food that is growing here in Liberia,” he said.
“We are going to be your investors; we are not going to give money away; we are not here to tell you what to do; but we want to know the best ideas. We are paying these guys to help you build these ideas into businesses.”
Donohoe stated that it will be a good idea to get involved in agribusinesses to help make Liberia a food-independent country, adding small and medium businesses are the bedrock of any economy.
He inspired residents of these counties to make use of the opportunity and apply, nothing, it is good to start small and get big. He said that although it is challenging to be an entrepreneur, however, when successful, it comes with a lot of opportunities.
“We, at USAID, really believe from all of our experience in the economies around the world that small businesses like what you people are about to do or what you are already doing are the strength of the economy and generate the biggest economic growth.”
Speaking earlier, Luther D. Jeke, Executive Officer iCampus Liberia gave detailed information to stakeholders in the agribusiness ecosystem as well as local leaders and policymakers the scope of the program in the selected locations; application process, qualification criteria for selection, and the nature of agribusinesses that are eligible for the program.
“We are happy to open and launch cohort one of the USAID Liberia Agribusiness Incubator for the first time in the agriculture space of Liberia. So, people can now start to apply,” said Jeke.
He said the USAID agribusiness incubator program is not only limited to the five counties, but it covers all of the counties in Liberia.
Explaining in detail, he said: “USAID awarded three incubators, so the iCampus Consortium is made up of BSC Monrovia and Agro-Tech Liberia.” Jeke indicated, “These three organizations are running Lot C. We also have Lot A and Lot B. TRIBE Liberia is operating one of those lots in five counties, while Educare Liberia, is also running another lot in five counties. That means the program covers all 15 counties in Liberia.”
He noted that the five counties – Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Lofa cover Lot “C”, adding that the program will run from this year to 2025.
Jeke added that the program is basically intended to engage with small and emerging agribusinesses that lack the potential to co-invest in larger grant opportunities through highly participatory workshops, technical assistance, coaching, and mentorship.
Meanwhile, interested applicants within the project counties can click this link to apply.