Fofana is a happy man with a big smile. Six years ago, he founded his carpentry business, Soulemane Silla Woodshop, on Broad Street in Gbarnga, Liberia’s second largest city. He successfully produced household furniture but had trouble growing his business. He had no idea of how to bid for large, international contracts that could improve his production skills. He also did not know how to find information on such opportunities. One day, the Building Markets team visited his wood shop and registered his business on our business portal.
Months later in July, PCI Liberia came to Building Markets with a matchmaking request for 750 chairs, which the organization wanted to purchase from a local supplier. The Building Markets team found a match in Fofana’s woodshop. After Fofana delivered the 750 chairs, PCI Liberia placed a second order for 1,500 more. These contracts have changed Fofana’s business.
“I had thirty persons working in this wood shop but with the current contract I have just employed fifteen more,” Fofana said. Increased business and job creation, however small, is a big deal in a country with over 80 percent unemployment. “[Before] I was only producing beds, dressers and tables for the community. People hardly buy these things because production is costly and the finished product is expensive,” Fofana says. “But as you can see I am now producing 1,500 arm chairs. This is a life changing situation.” To see a video of Fofana at his woodship, click here.
In addition to Fofana, Building Markets’ Sustainable Marketplace Initiative in Liberia has helped several businesses win 23 contracts, worth a total of over $1 million ($1,408,343.04 to be exact). Building Markets has listed 1,824 Liberian-owned businesses on the business portal, including 646 women-owned businesses. We’ve sent over 25,000 text messages to businesses, like Fofana’s, to alert them of new opportunities they can bid on. We’ve trained 88 businesses, two of which attributed winning a contract to the training session they attended.
We want to thank each of our contributors for their generous support in helping us connect business owners in Liberia to new opportunities. There is still much more to be done, and we would like to encourage you to consider donating again, donating for the first time, or spreading the word to your friends and family!
*All numbers are through the end of October 2012.
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