‘Investor CONNECT’ is a networking platform created by the IFC to link the growing number of investors and financiers in Sierra Leone and Liberia with dynamic, sustainable companies. The initiative builds on the agency’s experience through the IFC SME Ventures Program and Cordaid, which in 2010 invested in a pilot fund – the West Africa Venture Fund (WAVF) – that has since invested in 25 companies across Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Country Representative of the IFC, Frank Ajilore, said the purpose of the forum was to showcase key investment opportunities in Sierra Leone and connect investors to those opportunities.
“You are here to ask as well as to answer to questions about indicators that will help us improve the business climate in Sierra Leone. We are also here to know how we can crystallize such opportunities into realities,” he told participants, who were drawn from small, medium enterprises in the country.
He stated that the economy of the country had demonstrated some level of resilience despite facing significant downturn from 2014 to 2016 due of the Ebola crisis and the fall in iron ore prices in the world market, as well as other shocks such as inflation.
Mr. Ajilore further noted that Sierra Leone had experienced a steady gross domestic product (GDP) average of 4% and a shift from mining to services which, according to him, was a good sign of adjusting the economy towards sustainability.
“We are starting to see significant improvement towards making Sierra Leone a better place to do business despite the doing business ranking of 163 out of 190,” he said. “A good sense of governance is visible, coupled with the experience of foreign direct investment into the country.”
He also spoke about the diversification of the economy with very little reliance on iron ore as it used to be, and a speed in infrastructural development, especially in electricity.
The forum featured two presentations on success stories. The first was from WAVF, who spoke from an investor’s point of view; and the second from Sierra Agra International, which presented from an investee’s point of view. These were followed by two panel discussions. The first discussed the topic:
‘Growing a business in Sierra Leone – lessons from the past, shaping the future’, and comprised of participants from Gemini Capital, the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Science, Technology and Innovation, Vitafoam – SL, Ram Shankerdas, and PKF Mason Hill – SL.
The second panel, which discussed the topic: ‘Investing in Sierra Leone – lessons from the past, shaping the future’, featured participants from CORDAID – SL, Hilton Hotel – SL, the Corporate Affairs Commission, Presidential Adviser on Economic and Financial Policy, Macauley, Bangura & Co and Synergy Capital Managers.
The event took place on Monday, February 11, 2019.