Mangee was among the first cohort of 20 young Liberian women to receive a loan from our BTCA program to help her start a business. Originally interested in selling bedsheets, Mangee discovered through BTCA training and one-on-one mentorship that it was not viable. She instead chose to follow her passion of cooking and open a small catering business, requesting a modest loan to buy cooking equipment and begin marketing her business by distributing flyers to potential customers. Her new marketing skills helped her win some big initial contracts, including a deal to cater for 100 people per day on an NGO training course. “I was cooking for three weeks, and employed ten people,” says Mangee.
The training also taught Mangee about the financial side of being an entrepreneur: paying staff, calculating profits, and accumulating savings. “This year I expect to have made close to USD$5,000 in personal savings and the business turnover should be around USD$12,000”. This success and new wealth is transforming the lives of Mangee, her family, and other community members, and she still has big plans ahead. “For the next contract I want to get a car to make transport easier. I see this business extending. First, I want to open a good restaurant, and I am already in the process by securing a piece of land. After that, I would like to expand to open a chain of restaurants.”
I am Yei Neagor, and I am 24 years old. I live with my mother, two brothers, my nieces and nephews and my 3 year-old son in Paynesville, Liberia.
I started selling water and soft drinks when I started at university, which was in 2011. But today I sell drinks of all kinds. I went to the Be The Change Academy (BTCA) run by Youth Crime Watch of Liberia in partnership with Peace Child International, and they taught me how build up my business. I learnt how to keep records, provide customer service and maintain checks and balances in business. All these skills are important in business – especially customer service skills. If you do not treat your customers right, then that customer will never come back to you.
After graduation, the BTCA gave me a loan, and I grew my business more. I am always going back to BTCA, and they are always putting me on track. Since I did the programme, I have seen big difference in my business. Before, I was not getting what I am now, like more customers and an increase in business. I started adding more value to my business by offering different drinks to sell. The loan helped me a lot, as the goods that I bought helped me increase my business, income and profits. Every month, I can now pay myself a monthly salary.
I want to thank the Be The Change Academy (BTCA) because they have impacted my life. I never thought that I would reach this far, or that I could do something on my own. Through the training and the loan, I was able to get so far.
I also feel good about myself because I have something on my own, I can now buy anything I want for myself and help my parents. I can pay my own school fees this semester. I am independent, and it makes me feel great as a person because I can do anything for myself.
By starting a business, I gained respect from the community because at least I did something thing on my own, and I am able to manage by myself. It important for young people to start businesses because then you have your own money. You don’t need to ask someone for help to buy things. I can now buy anything I want for myself and help my parents. I can pay my own school fees this semester. I am independent, and it makes me feel great as a person because I can do anything for myself.
I would encourage young women to start businesses, as it was through encouragement that I was able to do something for myself here. Young women should start doing something for themselves, because if you start your own business, no one can take that from you.
The BTCA changed me a lot. There were many things I didn’t know about business that I know now. I feel like I am a different person today. I never thought that I would get this far, or that I could do something on my own. Through the training and the loan, I was able to move forward.
With you support we can provide training, loans and mentorship to more aspiring entrepreneurs
I am Gbasay F. Davis from Liberia, Paynesville. I have a husband, a daughter named Wubu, and a son called Jesse. My business today is all about provisions. In our community, people have to travel far into the city to get stuff like food, so I decided to bring provisions to the community.
I started my business about three years ago because there were no jobs for me after I graduated high school and nursing school. I really wanted to work in the hospital, but when I applied, no one would take me as a nurse aid because I had no recommendation. In our society, people must know you before you get a job.
“I am very, very proud of myself. I am self-employed and running a business, and I am happy that getting into business was not in vain.”
“The business kept my family going during Ebola. I was the accentual worker during the Ebola outbreak for my family.”
When I heard about the BTCA programme I thought that this would help me know more about how to run my business. It made a big difference. The accounting skills were the most useful skills that I learnt. When we were taught those skills, we started laughing and saying, ‘Oooh, so we are in accounting school’, and we joked over it, but really it was meaningful.
Today, before I even go buy, I sit down and calculate how much I am putting into the business and how much I will get out of the business, so if I make a loss, I will know how much I have lost. The BTCA really helped, and I would encourage people to be part of the training and part of the programme.
Over the summer, I volunteered at Youth Crime Watch of Liberia. Reflecting on my one month internship in Liberia, I am deeply touched by the people I met, and the goals we achieved. Throughout the month, I worked on drafting of the annual report for YCWL for submission to UNPD, I participated in meetings with the director of UN Women, I visited sites in Sanoyea, Bong County, where our new training facility is under construction. In addition, I worked with young children at the street library with reading and pronunciation, and I bridged the connection and negotiated with the Chinese Embassy in Liberia, which eventually resulted in the donation of furniture to our organization. All of these are valuable experiences that I treasure.
If I had to share only one thing about Liberia, then it would be how the people here are deeply committed to create change and to envision a brighter future of Liberia. I am amazed by both the ideological, but yet practical approaches that Liberian are trying to accomplish with limited amount of resources.
In regard to my role as a volunteer, I enjoyed a lot of free time during off hours and weekends. YCWL staff took care of everything. We went to social outings, bars, beaches and toured the city on weekends.
By ending, I want to emphasize that if a volunteer chooses to come to YCWL, he or she needs to always keep in mind and be committed in battling against inequality, bridging poverty gaps, and contributing to the local educational resources and policies. I would strongly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested and willing to take challenges.
A Canadian studying in Norway
I came to Liberia in order to conduct field research for my Masters
thesis in Peace and Conflict Transformation, and at the same time,
participate in an internship with Youth Crime Watch of Liberia (YCWL) through Experience Liberia. Even though I was very busy between these two tasks, I had a really positive experience.
The people at YCWL were very helpful to make sure my time in Liberia was productive, educational, exciting, safe, and really fun. I learned so much about the country’s history, culture, and future challenges.
It was a pleasure to work with such passionate, intelligent, and energetic young people. It was especially helpful that they were accommodating of my own research project and helped use their
extensive connections in the community to help me conduct my field work in the short time that I was visiting their beautiful country.
Youth Crime Watch of Liberia draws upon the energy and creativity of Liberian young people in an effort to make Liberian communities happier, safer, and more secure places to live. My internship withthem opened my eyes to what an incredible and hopeful place Liberia truly is.
On my arrival for the first time in Liberia it didn’t take very long to feel at home. This was largely in part to the warm welcome I received from Youth Crime Watch. They opened the doors of their homes and showed us around the city with an invaluable insider’s perspective.
So many foreigners come to Liberia and get stuck in the NGO – International agency bubble. Youth Crime Watch of Liberia through it Experience Liberia program made sure that we got to know locals and the particular urban culture of Monrovia.
I am a music producer and DJ, and Zuo Taylor’s deep connections in the Liberian music industry allowed me to complete the first compilation of Hipco music available for international distribution. Without their help this would have not been possible.