MONROVIA: As a demonstration of the commitment of the government towards rural women empowerment, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor has launched a LD$16.5m rural empowerment scheme in Bong County, stating that the effort was made possible through the initiative of President George Manneh Weah who passion for the upliftment of the women folks in the country.
Speaking at the presentation ceremony of checks to the beneficiaries in Bong County yesterday, VP Taylor said President Weah’s commitment to uplifting women, especially empowering them with business opportunities has been consistent and has been going on across the country and this time around it has reached the turn of Bong County.
She historicized that during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, similar project was launched in Bong County with funding mainly coming from international donor institutions unlike the present dispensation where the government is sourcing the funding through its own budget, adding, “as a feminist in chief, he will continue to provide better services for the women”.
She told the beneficiaries that the program which will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce is an annual event and those who are receiving the funding should be able to make good use of the money to make their businesses profitable so that others will be able to also benefit.
“The loan is not to be repaid, it is meant for the empowerment of the women to enhance their livelihood
“So we want to beg you that we have received hundreds of entries across the county, we are dealing with a county with the third largest population, and you are the first ones to benefit and more is expected so that others will benefit. The first group of people will make use of it, put the money back and the other people also benefit from it.
“We have to help ourselves because all the free money that came under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is all gone. They were paying doctors, teachers, and other government workers, but under our time we have to look for the money ourselves now.
She also told the beneficiaries that the “money is not political money that other people will want to insinuate but money to establish you and grown your business so that you can be able to take care of your family and be in business continuously”
She thanked the Minister of Commerce and Industry Madam Marwinne Diggs, who was represented by Deputy Minister Wilfred Bangura for the patience and the tireless efforts to reach to the stage of taking off the initiative especially with tedious documentation of the application process the applicants went through.
For his part, Deputy Minister Bangura urged the beneficiaries to take full advantage of the scheme and see it as a great leap to the several other empowerment projects aimed at bringing the rural women at par with their urban counterparts.
He said the full amount of the scheme is LD$16,5m for 18 groups who qualified after passing through a series of screening, saying he was excited that “in this gathering there are women from the barracks, from the villages, towns and every sectors who are desirous of being entrepreneurs”
“We cannot end our remarks without thanking the President, His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah for his vision and great leadership to extend this kind of opportunities to rural women to come on par with women in the urban communities.
“We hope that these funds will be managed properly so that we will be able to use them to measure social economic development in Bong County. You have been chosen to be part of this wealth creation and strategy and we know you will not let the President down.
We know through our monitoring processes we will be able to see tangibles, to see how you will move from being at the lowest ebb of the society to an upper level of society through the funding program where you will be owners of big businesses, like supermarkets, wholesalers, suppliers etc.
Some of the groups who received the funding were Short People Association of Bong County, Millennial “New thing” farmers association, Rice seed and vegetable farming association who are also interested in in mushroom production, the Bala Farmer Association , Koma Women Association, Women United for Economic Empowerment, Barrack Women Association, among others.