Kum-Jo International's owner Friday Ojo
Friday Ojo is a man of vision, but he struggled to make his vision a reality. Building Markets, with the help of donors like you, assisted Ojo to get the skills he needed to succeed.
Ojo started his business Kum-Jo International Enterprises in 2009 with a single worker. Initially, he sold cassava products and charcoal. In 2012 he enrolled in the USAID Sustainable Marketplace Initiative Liberia’s (SMI-L) general procurement training. During the training Ojo learned how to write a business proposal, how to bid for a contract and improve his customer service. After his training Ojo said “I now know how to talk to customers and potential partners and how to build relationships.” Ojo, like many other business owners using Building Markets services, also receives emails about relevant tenders that he can bid on.
With his newly learned business skills, he grew unsatisfied with his charcoal business and used all of his profits to launch a secondary business. Now, Ojo collects and sells automobile scraps (car bumpers, gas tanks and oil drums) and crushes the scrap materials by hand using a hammer - one ton of scrap will take two weeks to crush.
Prior to undergoing the Building Markets training, Ojo bidded on several tenders yet failed to win them. Eventually Ojo’s hard work paid off when he won a $12,000 contract for auto scraps with Afcons Infrastructure Limited. The contract allowed him to hire six more workers and expand his business to include aluminum and plastic scraps. A few months later, Kum-Jo won two more contracts, which Ojo attributes to Building Markets’ training. One was for the supply of charcoal to AFCORES and the other for used tires, 200 empty drums, and 20 drums of used oil to GRILL – IMPREX.
As of the end of April 2013 through Building Markets’ training, locally-owned businesses have won more than $53,142.25 worth of contracts, creating more than 20 new full-time jobs and 7 part-time jobs. All of the project’s services combined have helped businesses win more than $5.7 million in contracts and create 81 full-time jobs and 19 part-time jobs.
In the Air Field neighborhood where Ojo lives in Monrovia, he explains that people come to him for food. Ojo said “I wanted to give them more than food. I wanted to give them a job.” He now has nine workers five females and four males, all of who now care for their families. They collect empty soda cans and broken plastic chairs, tubs and containers, all of which are ubiquitous in Monrovia. They hammer them down into inch-long pieces. With a desire to further expand his business Ojo has opened a branch in Nimba County and hopes to send two of his workers to the next Building Markets general procurement training session.
“The sky is my limit, and there’s no turning back.” Ojo said. He wants to continue to expand his business both geographically and across sectors with poultry as his next focus. To do so he would need a loan or a significant amount of profits set aside. In the meantime, Ojo is happy with his life and business. “Kum-Jo International Enterprises improves my life and improves the lives of so many others,” Ojo said.
Worker Alice Sukuta gathers crushed cans.
Worker Abraham Ivy breaks down plastic scraps.
Friday weighs scraps.