I am Yei Neagor, and I am 24 years old. I live with my mother, two brothers, my nieces and nephews and my 3 year-old son in Paynesville, Liberia.
I started selling water and soft drinks when I started at university, which was in 2011. But today I sell drinks of all kinds. I went to theBe The Change Academy (BTCA) run by Youth Crime Watch of Liberia in partnership with Peace Child International, and they taught me how build up my business. I learnt how to keep records, provide customer service and maintain checks and balances in business. All these skills are important in business – especially customer service skills. If you do not treat your customers right, then that customer will never come back to you.
After graduation, the BTCA gave me a loan, and I grew my business more. I am always going back to BTCA, and they are always putting me on track. Since I did the programme, I have seen big difference in my business. Before, I was not getting what I am now, like more customers and an increase in business. I started adding more value to my business by offering different drinks to sell. The loan helped me a lot, as the goods that I bought helped me increase my business, income and profits. Every month, I can now pay myself $26 as a monthly salary.
I want to thank the Be The Change Academy (BTCA) because they have impacted my life. I never thought that I would reach this far, or that I could do something on my own. Through the training and the loan, I was able to get so far
I also feel good about myself because I have something on my own, I can now buy anything I want for myself and help my parents. I can pay my own school fees this semester. I am independent, and it makes me feel great as a person because I can do anything for myself.
By starting a business, I gained respect from the community because at least I did something thing on my own, and I am able to manage by myself. It important for young people to start businesses because then you have your own money. You don’t need to ask someone for help to buy things. I can now buy anything I want for myself and help my parents. I can pay my own school fees this semester. I am independent, and it makes me feel great as a person because I can do anything for myself.
I would encourage young women to start businesses, as it was through encouragement that I was able to do something for myself here. Young women should start doing something for themselves, because if you start your own business, no one can take that from you.
The BTCA changed me a lot. There were many things I didn’t know about business that I know now. I feel like I am a different person today. I never thought that I would get this far, or that I could do something on my own. Through the training and the loan, I was able to move forward.
With you support we can provide training, loans and mentorship to more aspiring entrepreneurs
I am Gbasay F. Davis from Liberia, Paynesville. I have a husband, a daughter named Wubu, and a son called Jesse. My business today is all about provisions. In our community, people have to travel far into the city to get stuff like food, so I decided to bring provisions to the community.
I started my business about three years ago because there were no jobs for me after I graduated high school and nursing school. I really wanted to work in the hospital, but when I applied, no one would take me as a nurse aid because I had no recommendation. In our society, people must know you before you get a job.
“I am very, very proud of myself. I am self-employed and running a business, and I am happy that getting into business was not in vain.”
“The business kept my family going during Ebola. I was the accentual worker during the Ebola outbreak for my family.”
When I heard about the BTCA programme I thought that this would help me know more about how to run my business. It made a big difference. The accounting skills were the most useful skills that I learnt. When we were taught those skills, we started laughing and saying, ‘Oooh, so we are in accounting school’, and we joked over it, but really it was meaningful.
Today, before I even go buy, I sit down and calculate how much I am putting into the business and how much I will get out of the business, so if I make a loss, I will know how much I have lost. The BTCA really helped, and I would encourage people to be part of the training and part of the programme.
My name is Matee Freeman. I am 26 years old, and I cut hair and sell cosmetics.
I started braiding hair in Ivory Coast. I had to move there from Liberia to escape the war. When we returned to Liberia, I started to braid students’ hair, and I started to improve at it. From there, I started braiding in attachments [extensions] and weaving hair.
I had it in mind that I should make this skill my business in life, so I started asking customers for payment. I intend to open a salon. That is my goal. But for now, I have started the business right in my front yard. My mother helped me with this little establishment. “This will be your salon,” she said.
“The BTCA training taught me about customer service, business ethics and how to rise above your competitors. As I learnt all these lessons, I started to apply them to my business. Now I have more customers than ever before.”
“People say that they are impressed with my business, and it makes me feel good and encourages me to move forward. At the start, they thought I could not make it, but today, here I am, and I am improving every day.”
It was not easy to start the business. There are many people who braid hair. It was hard to get started in my community because most people go to a different part of town get their hair done. Once I started to braid a few people’s hair, people would end up asking them where they got it done and would find out that it was me. They would say, “You mean that girl that is sitting on the porch there? Well, then she can really plait hair!” And that is how they started coming.
The BTCA training taught me about customer service, business ethics and how to rise above your competitors. As I learnt all these lessons, I started to apply them to my business. Now I have more customers than ever before.
Mangee was among the first cohort of 20 young Liberian women to receive a loan from our BTCA program to help her start a business. Originally interested in selling bedsheets, Mangee discovered through BTCA training and one-on-one mentorship that it was not viable. She instead chose to follow her passion of cooking and open a small catering business, requesting a modest $200USD loan to buy cooking equipment and begin marketing her business by distributing flyers to potential customers. Her new marketing skills helped her win some big initial contracts, including a deal to cater for 100 people per day on an NGO training course. “I was cooking for three weeks, and employed ten people,” says Mangee.
The training also taught Mangee about the financial side of being an entrepreneur: paying staff, calculating profits, and accumulating savings. “This year I expect to have made close to $5,000 in personal savings and the business turnover should be around $12,000”. This success and new wealth is transforming the lives of Mangee, her family, and other community members, and she still has big plans ahead. “For the next contract I want to get a car to make transport easier. I see this business extending. First, I want to open a good restaurant, and I am already in the process by securing a piece of land. After that, I would like to expand to open a chain of restaurants.”
Our team of ICARE volunteers recently spent a Saturday filling-in potholes and making a dangerous intersection much safer for community members! iCARE is our dedicated team of youth volunteers who work with us to identify pressing issues in their communities and then plan and execute solutions to those same issues.
Over the summer, I volunteered at Youth Crime Watch of Liberia. Reflecting on my one month internship in Liberia, I am deeply touched by the people I met, and the goals we achieved. Throughout the month, I worked on drafting of the annual report for YCWL for submission to UNPD, I participated in meetings with the director of UN Women, I visited sites in Sanoyea, Bong County, where our new training facility is under construction. In addition, I worked with young children at the street library with reading and pronunciation, and I bridged the connection and negotiated with the Chinese Embassy in Liberia, which eventually resulted in the donation of furniture to our organization. All of these are valuable experiences that I treasure.
If I had to share only one thing about Liberia, then it would be how the people here are deeply committed to create change and to envision a brighter future of Liberia. I am amazed by both the ideological, but yet practical approaches that Liberian are trying to accomplish with limited amount of resources.
In regard to my role as a volunteer, I enjoyed a lot of free time during off hours and weekends. YCWL staff took care of everything. We went to social outings, bars, beaches and toured the city on weekends.
By ending, I want to emphasize that if a volunteer chooses to come to YCWL, he or she needs to always keep in mind and be committed in battling against inequality, bridging poverty gaps, and contributing to the local educational resources and policies. I would strongly recommend this opportunity to anyone interested and willing to take challenges.
Youth Crime Watch Liberia’s programs is a strategy or theory of change that recognises the need for active, empowered and enabled youth citizens who have a channel for interaction with an accountable state and society with the goal of reducing and preventing crime.