By: Jerromie S. Walters

Sinkor, Liberia: Several grassroot Women Enterpreneurs currently serving customers in the diaspora and elsewhere have raised a serious concern over the huge postal service fees levied on local businesses package (s) at the Roberts International Airport (RIA).

The women believe that the cost is staggering local Liberian women businesses and it is an attempt to stall profits and more production.

The group of enterpreneurs spoke at the launch of the first edition of the Liberian women in Business dialogue for women Enterpreneurs organized by the Federation of Business Women and Enterpreneurs (FEBWE). The dialogue was intended to highlight challenges, prospects and recommendations surrounding the business environment in Liberia.

Among other things at FEBWE’s dialogue were the registration process of Liberian businesses, Business Development, Access to Finance, Trade & Investment, and Women Leadership & Good Governance.

Emphasizing the challenges surrounding trade and investment in Liberian businesses, Ms. Victoria Kennie of the Patience Cocoa, and Chocolate Production noted that the skyrocket financial requirement attached to importing and exporting of goods contributes to a major setback to the growth and expansion of local businesses in Liberia.

Highlighting her personal experience, Victoria Kennie narrated that her institution exported a mini package to a US based customer in a quantity of 6 kilograms, through the Liberia Postal Service, and was charged 250 United States dollars at the Roberts International Airport. “The other day I needed to send something that is just about 6kg and then I was charged $250US dollars by the Postal service at the airport, I was so frustrated and because I needed it, I had to pay that money in tears,” she said.

As a result of the given experience, Victoria Kennie noted that the Patience Cocoa and Chocolate Production has halted the export of goods.

Augusta Mayon of the Yummy Yummy Artistry, in dismay aluded to Patience’s testimonial of huge postal service fees at the RIA, indicating that it has the propensity of denying Liberian entrepreneurs and business women of venturing into certain businesses, as a result of the fees attached, and might possibly be rejected by customers on the market if they will consider the fees spent in getting on board as many may consider it as inflation. “If you go out and see stuffs, you will know that upon bringing it to Liberia it will help in exploring your business but considering the financial process at the airport, it discourages the desire,” she further emphasized.

The women attributed the repeated behavior of business people to sell at a certain price due to the financial constraint they often experience through the postal service at the Airport.

However, the roundtable discussions endeavored to provide businesswomen in Liberia, and the Liberian US and Canadian diaspora, a platform to identify the challenges of doing business in Liberia and develop recommendations for improving the business climate for women business owners.

Howbeit, the recommendations will be measurable and sustainable actions that contribute to the growth of the Liberian economy. They will also serve as a roadmap for lobbying the legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly.

Ironically, Zeporah Jackie Ward
who’s the founder of Jackfa Farming Enterprise, expressed overwhelming desire in having her goods sold at an international market amid the local challenge of postal service fees.

Zeporah narrates how she sometimes travel through it, “the only way I do export is when someone is coming from the states, or when someone is going to the states, I sometimes send the goods through them, or if you are in another country and interested in my goods, I can have it sent if you have someone over here that is going back that same direction, because I’m not able to pay“.

At the same time, Zeporah recommended the need for Business finance, Business management, Customer service, and
Inommerce training for business people in order to stregthen women Enterpreneurs.

The women believe that Liberian business employees often lack the knowledge and significance of customer service, as such, the need for basic training is paramount.

As some argued that the Postal service high cost is prompted by the low ratio of transactions, the women highlighted the importance of awareness and publicity at the Postal service, which they believe will attract the attention of many Liberians and will provide more customers which might create a means of cost reduction.

The Federation of Business Women and Entrepreneurs (FEBWE) Liberia is a non-governmental, non-political and non-profit organization focused on advocating, developing, empowering, and promoting women business entrepreneurs and women trade associations in Liberia. FEBWE Liberia is the Liberia Chapter of ECOWAS/FEBWE. FEBWE is registered both in Liberia and the U.S.

ECOWAS/FEBWE was established in July 2009 in Accra, Ghana at ECOWAS Constituent General Assembly as a non-profit, apolitical, and circular regional head organization for Business Women and Entrepreneurs. The Executive Secretariat is located in Abuja, Nigeria.

The objectives of the FEBWE/ ECOWAS is to create a platform for dialogue and action with a view to promoting entrepreneurship among women in West Africa, thus making it possible for them to contribute to the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and NEPAD, particularly regional integration of West Africa through; formulation of a support and advocacy policy to; upgrade the skills and capacity of businesswomen and entrepreneurs, and by promoting a favorable business environment for women within ECOWAS.

FEBWE is expected to host five (5)roundtables/dialogues with women business owners ONLY: three (3) of which will be hosted in Liberia (Successfully Exhausted), one (1) will be hosted online for Liberian women business owners in the US and Canada and 1 event will be hosted with key Government officials, heads of business
organizations, and a few women business owners – at the US Embassy.

Based on the roundtables, the FEBWE 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 the legislature on policies that will ensure women business owners are treated fairly.

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