In 2016 Sundial Brands, makers of SheaMoisture, awarded the NGO, SMART Liberia with a grant to help empower 50 girls and women to start or grow their businesses and help lift their communities out of poverty. The Girls Entrepreneurship and Tech Program (GET) targeted young girls and young women in secondary school to university level and tertiary institutions in Liberia, of which experienced a discrepancy in funding and training.
During the GET program inaugural Ideas Festival, SMART Liberia welcomed a class of 20 young women for a three day training in Entrepreneurship. From it, three young women entrepreneurs emerged as winners, receiving cash awards to support their businesses. All participants left the competition with extensive feedback on how to improve their businesses and have had an opportunity to work with SMART Liberia to incorporate feedback into their business plans and strategies.
In the next cycle of the grants, SMART Liberia recently hosted a back-to-back entrepreneurship meeting with the GET fellows and local youth entrepreneurs in Liberia. During the meeting, the fellows gave a status report of their businesses and detailed how the grant has provided a yearlong incubation for their businesses.
The round-table conversations with the local entrepreneurs highlighted some of the key challenges faced by them in Liberia, especially as women, and provided recommendations relative to how entrepreneurs can grow and develop themselves into a power ecosystem in Liberia.