The Ebola outbreak may well be the best-known crisis to befall Liberia and Sierra Leone but the global collapse in commodity prices has hampered their economies even harder, with a drop in growth of over 20% in Sierra Leone and stagnation in Liberia. Now both countries are working hard to return to growth and encourage investors and international partners to get behind a range of opportunities for wealth creation. In collaboration with the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), African Business takes a look at some of the lesser known business success stories in Monrovia, Freetown and beyond.
A decline in rubber prices in recent years has seen many farms in Liberia close down. Now for the first time businesses like Bright Farms are investing in processing rubber on-site, opening up new export markets. (Pic: Chongyoon Aaron Nah)
Less than 10% of Liberia’s 10,000km of roads are paved and during the rainy season transporting goods is a huge challenge. The recent completion of the Monrovia to Ganta road will halve the six-hour journey from the capital to the major agricultural region of Nimba County. (Pic: Chongyoon Aaron Nah)
Sierra Leone used to be one of Africa’s biggest rice exporters but today the country spends around $160m a year on importing foreign rice. The construction of three rice processing mills, including Mountain Lion in the village of Makare, are giving farmers the chance to increase productivity. (Pic: Olivia Acland)
Entrepreneurs in Liberia are benefitting from Monrovia’s business start-up centre aimed an incubating innovative small businesses. Meanwhile, in Sierra Leone 1,000 small businesses, such as Aromatic Coffee, are set to have access to a government-run agency to develop their operations. (Pic: Olivia Acland)
Palm oil production is often inefficient. Mahmud Johnson, owner of J-Palm in Liberia, is committed to changing that by using otherwise wasted palm oil kernels to develop a range of products including soaps and beauty products. (Pic: Chongyoon Aaron Nah)
The port of Freetown sits on one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and Equidistant between the coast of Brazil and major European ports, means the terminal has clear potential as a trading hub. A recent $120m investment from Bollore Transport and Logistics has secured plans for a new berth to attract bigger ships which, and capacity will jump from 90,000 containers to 750,000 a year. (Pic: Olivia Acland)
Small businesses and workers in the informal sector are struggling under the lockdown in Nairobi, but many are ineligible for government funds meant to help the vulnerable. Tom Collins reports from the city