Witnessing the Impact of Liberia’s Social Entrepreneurs

By Brooks Marmon, Accountability Architect.

Heading out on the water taxis

Heading out on the water taxis

The Accountability Lab, the Business Start-Up Center- Monrovia, and Barefoot Liberia co-hosted the 5th Social Impact Tour (SIT), showcasing Monrovia’s most innovative social enterprises on June 7. The tour provides participants with a first-hand view of the creative ways that Liberians are rebuilding an economy and society shattered by 14 years of civil war.

The Accountability Lab and the Business Start-Up Center both provide technical assistance to creative Liberian entrepreneurs. The SIT allows tourists to observe these change-makers in action. The tour visited five social entrepreneurs:

DSCF4323The day began with a guided ride on the National Water Transport Service (NWTS), a ferry service for people and market goods from Monrovia’s suburbs to the peninsula of Monrovia’s downtown business district, passing the historic Providence Island, site of the first settlement of repatriated slaves who came to govern the country at independence in 1847.

Film School Director, Divine-Key Anderson, teaching his class abThe tour went from ferry to film, with a screening of videos produced by the Accountability Film School, directed by Liberia’s only formally trained film director, Divine Key Anderson. Participants watched several films highlighting themes of corruption, transparency, and sexual exploitation. Divine noted that in societies with low levels of literacy, ‘there is a big gap between the few who are educated and those who are not and that gap is something we are trying to fix with the film school.’

Accountability Lab Social Impact TourFalama, Inc. processes and sells a variety of flours produced from local goods such as cassava. Falama has 5 full-time staff and 15 contractors, working with providers as far away as Lofa County on Liberia’s northeast border with Guinea. The business works primarily with women and many of its products are popular among mothers for their nutritious value and easy preparation.

DSCF4356The Daily Talk is an initiative of a Liberia citizen journalist- Alfred Sirleaf- to provide easy to read, concise, and regularly updated news at a major Monrovia intersection. The Accountability Lab has been working with Alfred to disseminate key information to citizens through the Daily Talk that can improve their lives- such as how to obtain a driver’s license or how to register a vehicle. In operation for over a decade, the Daily Talk will soon expand to additional locations in Monrovia to reach thousands more Liberians.

DSCF4368The Green Center is Liberia’s first and only recycling center. Taking advantage of a location on the outskirts of a major market, The Green Center produces high quality organic fertilizer from the remains of vegetables sold at market. The Center also produces bags from plastic water sachets and recycles aluminum cans, which has greatly alleviated the trash problem on Monrovia’s streets.

If you would like to support any of these social entrepreneurs, we encourage you to make a donation to the Accountability Lab. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you will be visiting Monrovia – curated tours can often be arranged on demand. Amidst adversity, Liberia has a lot to celebrate over the last decade and these successful entrepreneurs demonstrate the huge potential of a fascinating and beautiful country.

About Accountability Lab

Making power-holders accountable in the developing world

2 responses to “Witnessing the Impact of Liberia’s Social Entrepreneurs”

  1. Accountability Lab says :

    Victoria- thank you so much for taking the tour and we are thrilled you enjoyed it! Just to clarify briefly on the Daily Talk- aside from a panel of the board focusing on civic education, the Lab plays no role in the content of the board. The chalkboard certainly does have inherent space limitations and Alfred is also undeniably a product of Liberia’s context and history. The question of the government’s stewardship of funds is one shared by many Liberians, a result of historical abuse of power as much as anything else. We suspect that Alfred’s use of such a question is partially an effort to test and consolidate Liberia’s rising press freedom with a concern shared by many Liberian citizens.

    While we may not agree with everything Alfred writes on the board, freedom of speech is important and questioning government (and other power-holders) is also a fundamental building-block of accountability, in any context. We also recognize the short-comings in the media sector in Liberia, which is why a complementary program we are working on is building the skills, knowledge and networks of journalists across the country, including Alfred. We’d love to show you that project next time you are in Liberia and feel free to reach out with other ideas too!

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