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Liberian-owned Businesses Shocked by Failed Loan Scheme

first_imgMahmud Johnson, CEO, J-Palm; Mrs. Eyvonne Bright-Harding, CEO of Sharks Entertainment Incorporated; Angie M. Howard, CEO, Falama Inc; Korkpor Daynuah, CEO, Panzsir CosmeticsMahmud Johnson, the entrepreneur who turned palm kernel oil into skin, hair and cooking products that are sold around the world, applied for the Private Sector Development Initiatives (PSDI) loan in 2014.But officials at the Ministry of Finance and Development of Planning, which managed the secret loan fund, told him that all the loans had been given out, and encouraged him to wait until people start repaying the loans.Johnson, founder and chief executive officer of J-Palm Manufacturing Company, said he was disappointed and shocked to learn that the majority of the business owners who received loans have not repaid a penny, and that some of them created ghost businesses that auditors could not locate.Mr. Johnson said the process was not transparent or open to all Liberian businesses, thereby giving the opportunity to non-beneficiaries and leaving out the people who should have been the direct beneficiaries.Mr. Johnson was one of several small and medium sized business owners who expressed outraged about the failed loan scheme.“I don’t believe that such a huge amount of money can be allocated for Liberian businesses and the impact is not being felt. This money would have created jobs and empowered and changed the face of some communities that these businesses would have been established in,” Mr. Johnson said.Mr. Johnson, who started the business in 2013 currently employs 34 individuals, and plans to have his products across Liberia. He has participated in the most talked about MSME conference intended to showcase Liberian made products. The conference has brought hundreds of businesses together, with a recommendation to take it to other counties.Meanwhile, according to the auditors, between 2014 and 2016, the project disbursed US$2,274,400 to forty-six (46) borrowers. The report revealed that Dr. James F. Kollie, former Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs (MFDP), signed all the loan approvals while serving in the position.Out of the 46 borrowers, only Garson Incorporated, located on 11th Street, Sinkor, believed to be owned by Dr. James Kollie, paid its obligation of US$150,000 plus US$10,500 interest, amounting to a total repayment of US$160,500. Garson Incorporated’s account statement reveals that the institution has only an US$11.00 obligation outstanding.News of the failed loan scheme broke last week when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ordered Dr. Kollie to cut short his overseas trip and come back home to account for the money.Kollie was deputy minister for fiscal affairs at the MFDP when the fund was created.Mrs. Eyvonne Bright-Harding, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sharks Entertainment Incorporated, has been fighting to get the government to protect the 21 businesses earmarked for Liberians under the Liberianization Policy.Bright-Harding produces ice cream, one of the protected Liberian businesses. But in the past year, two foreigners have opened ice cream manufacturing businesses, and a third is underway.“To find ourselves in a situation that money was earmarked for Liberian-owned businesses and find out that the money was not used for the intended purpose is shocking,’’ she said.It is disheartening that the government paid out such a huge amount and have nothing to show for it, she said. Sadly, she said, there is no penalty for people who mismanage public funds.“They will move around and get all the invitations to attend some of the big programs or functions acting as if nothing happened,” she said. “We are waiting and listening to hear what the results will be, and what others will learn from this sad situation,’’ she said.Bright-Harding, who has been in business for over 20 years, said it is important that people repay their loans, because it is good for business and the economy. The fallout from the loan scheme is another indication of the lack of patriotism among Liberians, she said.“Liberians are not being patriotic when they can’t implement the policy that protects businesses earmarked for Liberians,” she added.Bright-Harding wondered whether the Ministry of Commerce and Industry knew about the loan scheme, as it should have informed the small and medium sized businesses that it has been showcasing over the last few years.Kokpor Daynuah, CEO and founder of PANZSIR Cosmetics, a Liberian-owned business, was sad when he heard about the failed loan scheme. He said he applied for the PSDI fund, but didn’t get it. He was shocked to learn that government officials gave loans to themselves instead of small businesses who are struggling to expand.“These are people who don’t own any business and they took something that was intended to change some of our businesses and put us in a better position to put us on par with foreign-owned businesses; and it has been mismanaged by our own people,’’ he said.The government, he said, issued loans without putting regulations and guidelines to determine the criteria for qualifying for the loan. The loan should have been given to existing businesses, he said.“People often complain that Liberian-owned businesses don’t want to expand, but how can those businesses expand when they don’t get the support they need?” he asked. “The failed loan scheme could scare donors away. Donors will be reluctant to support Liberian businesses because it’s been proven that government will give the loans to their friends and relatives, instead of the struggling businesses.”The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) has been working with many small businesses through the Small Business Administration (SBA). “Why did MFDP create a loan program when there was a structure at MOCI?” Daynuah asked further.Another businesswoman who spoke to our team of reporters yesterday in the Paynesville community said the behavior of the government officials has caused serious problems for businesspeople.Angie M. Howard, Chief Executive Officer of Falama Inc, told this paper that she knew about the loan at the Ministry of Finance but those who were leading the process told her that there was no money in the PSDI account.She said because of the long bureaucracy in obtaining the loan, “I decided to forgo it and invest my own personal cash into my business. I was fed up with being told ‘go come back tomorrow.’”Fortunately, all four of these Liberian businesses have improved over the last four years, much against the odds. Noteworthy among them is J-Palm, which has won multiple awards because of his insightful business model and the innovation that it pursues. Sharks Enterprise (Bright-Harding) is a diversified catering service – they don’t sell only ice-cream and pop-corn. Falama (Howard) is now into packaging coconut water and Panzsir (Daynuah) moved its production line from a small workshop in Brewerville, Montserrado County to Nimba County, where expansion has improved production and safety standards.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

COMMUNITY NEWS: RAPHOE BOXING CLUB THANK MIKE KELLY FOR SPONSORING TOURNAMENT

first_imgRAPHOE NOTES:Raphoe Family Resource Centre: Wellness WorkshopFollowing on from the recent successful Stress Control Classes in the autumn the Family Resource Centre and SOS in partnership with Connect Mental Health is delighted to be hosting a Wellness Workshop on Thursday 10th March 2016 from 9.30am-4.30pm in the Volt House Hall, The Diamond, Raphoe. Suicide or Survive is committed to running Wellness Workshops in every community in Ireland. These workshops aim to help you understand and take responsibility for your own mental health and are funded through The National Office of Suicide Prevention, The Iris O’Brien Foundation and SOS fundraisers. The workshop can be of benefit to anyone who is interested in looking after their mental health and wellness. The workshop which is informal and relaxed is facilitated by people with both lived-life experience of mental health difficulties, and experience of working in the area of mental health. They combine personal testimony with practical tools and tips that you can use in everyday life to improve your own wellbeing. Throughout the day the workshop will look at topics such as relaxation, mindfulness, stress management, our thinking process and how to develop a wellness toolkit and daily wellness plan. A full comprehensive workbook to support you in maintaining your daily wellness plan accompanies the workshop. Early booking is advisable. Contact Jacqui or Lisa by telephoning Lo Call 1890577577. A light lunch will be available.Valentines Pamper HamperTickets now on sale at the Post Office in Centra for a Valentines Hamper packed full of gorgeous goodies!!  Many thanks to Mc Carron’s Butchers, Friel’s Hotel and Raphoe Pharmacy who kindly donated to the hamper.  Please pop in a buy a line!! Women’s GroupThe next two meeting of the Family Resource Centre’s Women’s Group will be 8th February and the 22nd February 2016.  The Women’s Group has been together for many years.  We chat; we help each other out, make crafts, have cooking demonstrations, plan activities for International Women’s Day and have many social outings throughout the year.  If you would like to be a part of this group, don’t hesitate to come along.Raphoe Something Special GroupThe Something Special Support Group’s next meeting is taking place on Tuesday 9th February 2016.  The Group meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 8pm.  If you are a parent/guardian of a child with delayed communication or learning skills or Autism Spectrum Disorder, you will find support, advice and information by attending this support group. New members are always welcome.  If you would like more information about the support group please contact Melanie on 0749145796 / 0873641503.50-50 Bonus BallFollowing on from the success of last year’s weekly ‘100 Club’ Private Member’s Draw the Family Resource Centre is now introducing its weekly 50-50 Bonus Ball Fundraising Draw. There will be 47 numbers for sale each week keenly priced at €1.00 each. The winning number will be the Bonus Ball drawn in the National Lottery Draw every Saturday. Half of monies collected each week will be paid out to the winner, i.e. if we sell all 47 numbers the lucky winner will receive €23.50, if we sell 30 numbers the winner will receive €15. If the Bonus Ball number is not sold in any particular week, the money will roll over to the following week. We look forward to the community’s support for this fundraiser. The first draw will be held leading up to the National Lottery Draw of Saturday 30th January 2016. To enter the Bonus Ball Draw please call into the Family Resource Centre in The Volt House before Saturday 30th January and before Saturday of each week thereafter. Good luck! Seniors Alert SchemeThe objective of the Seniors Alert Scheme is to encourage community support for vulnerable older people in our communities through the provision of personal monitored alarms to enable older persons of limited means to continue to live securely in their homes with confidence, independence and peace of mind.Funding is available under the scheme towards the purchase of equipment by a registered organisation i.e. personal alarm and/or pendant. The associated monitoring and service charges must be paid by the participant.A person will be eligible if he or she is: · Aged 65 years or older; and· Of limited means or resources; and· Living alone, living with another person who meets the eligibility criteria; and· Resides within geographical area of the relevant registered organisation; and· Able to benefit from the equipment supplied; and· Are prepared to maintain contact with the registered organisation.Raphoe Family Resource Centre has now taken over the administration of the Scheme.   Therefore,  if you or anyone you know are eligible for the scheme please do not hesitate to contact Laura at Raphoe Family Resource Centre on (074)9145796 or 0873641503 or alternatively call into our office located on the second floor of The Volt House, Raphoe. We would like to take this opportunity to thank The Friday Club based in The Volt House for all its excellent work with this Scheme going back many years.Raphoe Boxing ClubEveryone at Raphoe Boxing Club would like to express a sincere thanks to Mike Kelly (Scaffolding & Construction) who will be the major sponsor for the Raphoe clubs 28th annual boxing tournament to be staged in the Lifford Community Centre on Saturday 19th March.  More details of this bumper tournament will appear in the local press in the coming weeks.The Raphoe boxing club have two boxers through to the finals of the Ulster 9 County Championships in the Halfway House, Burnfoot on Sunday next.  Liam Crawford will face Derry boxer Cian Duddy, St. Joseph’s in his 44kgs final and Liam McMonagle, who had two very impressive wins in his quarter and semifinal bouts will face Corey McLaughlin, Errigal B.C, Co. Derry.  Liam Crawford has been selected to represent Ulster V’s Wales and everyone at the Raphoe club extend best wishes for every successSlimming World RaphoeDo you want to live happy and feel great? Find out how at Raphoe Slimming World. Come join our warm and friendly group every Tuesday night in the Cathedral Hall at 7.00pm. Make 2016 your year to live happy, get healthy and feel great. Contact Geraldine on 086-3348048.Please note that items for the Raphoe Notes should be placed in the box provided in the Post Office on or before 12 noon on Fridays. Items can also be emailed to raphoefrc@eircom.net or handed in to the Family Resource Centre, The Volt House. Items should be submitted at least one week in advance of publication of local press.COMMUNITY NEWS: RAPHOE BOXING CLUB THANK MIKE KELLY FOR SPONSORING TOURNAMENT was last modified: January 29th, 2016 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Boxing ClubCommunityFeaturesnewsRaphoeTownlast_img read more