Matchmaking Event Connects Local Consulting Firms with Development Partners

The Consortium of Business Development Service Providers of Liberia (CBDSPL), an organization supported by USAID Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI) organized a two-day matchmaking event to connect Liberian consulting firms with international organizations implementing development projects in Liberia.

The event, which was held February 6 and 7 at Monrovia City Hall, brought together nearly 100 people including consultingfirms, USAID implementing partners and United Nations organizations, and international organizations including Oxfam, and Mercy Corps, to network and identify potential business opportunities.

The CBDSPL comprises22 local firmsthat provide a range of services including capacity development, financial services, marketing, monitoring and evaluation, funds management, research, agribusiness and other support services for civil society organizations implementing projects for development organizations. And for both private and public sector.

Aris Leviticus Howe II, CBDSPL’s chair, thanked USAID for supporting and enabling Liberian businesses to provide a range of technical and capacity building services that will transform the country. USAID implementing partners have contracted consortium members to support projects such as USAID LAVI, USAID Local Empowerment for Government Inclusion and Transparency (LEGIT) USAIDRevenue Generation for Governance Growth (RG3), the USAIDLiberia Agribusiness Development Activity (LADA) among others.

“USAID LAVI has really strengthened our capacity as local firms and allowed us to hire other people,’’ Howe said. “We are creating jobs and contributing to the economy. Our consortium members have great expertise and we are using our expertise to enhance the capacity of CSOs in advocacy, financial management, gender mainstreaming.’’

The Matchmaking event was launched in December 2019 to connect consortium members to civil society organizations and the private sector. Last week’s event focused more on international organizations such as the USAID, United Nations, the World Bank and other organizations.

Since December, the Matchmaking events has resulted in over 15 new connections for consortium members.

As a result of USAID LAVI’s support, CBDSPL members have won  over 10 contracts, increased its online presence via Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram and members have gained knowledge and understanding of Liberia’s Public Procurement Concession Commission process to benefit from the 25 percent quota for Liberian businesses.

In her keynote address, Madam Decontee King-Sackie, deputy commissioner General for Technical Affairs at the Liberia Revenue Authority, urged consortium members to grow their business by looking for new opportunities through research, listening to their customers and learning from their competitors.

“Look at your competitors and understand what they do and how they got where they are,’’ she said. “This will allow you to differentiate your business from the rest.’’

Madam King-Sackie encouraged consortium members to form partnerships with other businesses to stimulate creativity, strengthen their capacity, expand their customer base and obtain additional resources.

“I admonish you to start teaming up with other businesses but reach out to the ones you think have a great opportunity for mutual respect and growth,’’ she said.

The Matchmaking event, King-Sackie said, is in line with USAID’s reform initiative, “USAID Forward,’’ whichseeks to embrace new partnerships, invest in innovation and places emphasis on results that promotes sustainable development through high impact partnerships and local solutions.

“One of the reasons for this shift is the realization that local implementers have the unique context and specific skills relative to the knowledge and understanding of how development works in their country,’’ King-Sackie said.

USAID Director of Democracy and Governance April O’Neilexpressed USAID’s strong support in opening   opportunities for local service providers instead of hiring international consultants to work on development projects in Liberia.

Consortium members, she said, understand the local context, so they will customize their support based on the experience working in Liberia. Local service providers reduce the cost of development projects, build the capacity of local businesses and create relationships among businesses and beneficiary organizations that will continue after the project ends, she said.

“USAID is proud to support the CBDSPL through LAVI, not only to improve service delivery but also to increase local ownership of the Liberian economy, ’Madam O’Neil   said. “Supporting local businesses strengthens local decision-making and gives an opportunity to ensure Liberians have a greater voice in how decision will impact them.’’

USAID LAVI’s Chief of Party Milica Panic said the matchmaking event is designed to strengthen the private sector’s capacity to play a major role in the Liberian economy.

In 2016, USAID LAVI launched the Service Provider Pool, a hub for small business and organizations to provide organizational services to civil society organizations. LAVI provided organizational development support, training and mentorship in financial sustainability and marketing to enhance their capacity development services and grow their businesses. Two years later, the pool merged with an existing provider network, the CBDSPL, to ensure greater sustainability of a service provider marketplace in Liberia.

“The Matchmaking event is a marketing event organized in support of the Consortium to increase their network reach, market their services to a target client base of private sector, international and development partners, public and social sector actors, and to create more awareness and support CBDSPL in expanding marketing opportunity,’’ Panic said.

She told participants that the USAIDLAVI project is designed to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships to advocate for and monitor policy and accountability reforms.  USAID works with civil society actors, the private sector and trade associations to participate in issue-based reforms including legislative and constitutional reforms to promote transparent and accountable and effective public sector governance.

Civil society organizations supported by LAVI are working on electoral reform, advocating for increase funding for education in the national budget, increase citizen participation in the use of the County and Social Development Fund (CSDF) and supporting Liberia’s 37 Communities Forestry Management Bodies to promote citizens’ participation in community forest governance.

About CBDSPL:The Consortium of Business Development Service Providers of Liberia is a one-stop shop for technical and capacity building services, serving public, private and development partners. For more information, call 0886772050/0770197959/

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