Liberia’s Leelai Kpukuyou To Receive ‘African Female Business Leadership Excellence Award’ 2018

As an actor in Liberia’s post-war economic recovery, Leelai is one of Liberia’s and West Africa’s rising prominent entrepreneurs with key focus on international trade and development.

Leelai has keen sense and ground knowledge on the day-to-day business environment of Liberia in all sectors. Due to her consistent work and tireless innovation rooted in trust, she has developed credible links with diverse business actors in the MRU (Mano River Union), ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) and other parts of Africa.

Leelai is a strong advocate for youth and women empowerment through entrepreneurship with clear focus on private sector development, developing suitable environment, strategy for international investors in Liberia and encouraging the international increase in trade and commerce in Liberia

She is the Secretary-General (SG) of the Liberian Business Association (LIBA), from 2011 to present, the CEO of Mini Mall Enterprise, Inc. and Board Chair of Sanoyea Realty Incorporated, a sister company to Mini Mall Enterprise, Inc.

Mini Mall Enterprise Inc and Sanoyea Realty Inc. are Liberian owned companies with a 21st century model of doing sustainable, people centred, trusted innovation solutions in Real estate, Petroleum Supply, Retail stores, General merchandise as well as business consultation. Currently she is looking to adding to her business portfolio, Technology and Tourism.

As CEO of Mini Mall Enterprise Inc., Leelai initiated a commission-based distribution model, where more than forty women and youths who are mainly high school dropouts, teen-aged mothers, ex-child soldiers from the Liberian civil war were supplied various goods on credit to sell and pay the cost of the goods while retaining the profit.  Today, more than 75% of these disadvantaged Liberians are now self-employed and some have diversified into commercial transport (motorbike), shop owners, cross border traders, etc.

At the Liberian Business Association (LIBA), Leelai is also responsible for Youth and Women Empowerment through Entrepreneurship. She visits various universities and business training institutions of higher learning to share with business students her experiences and encourage the spirit of wealth creation by starting their own business rather than seeking jobs that are already scarce.

eading to Liberia’s 2017 general and Presidential elections, Leelai served as Guest Speaker on Election and Peace for the Girls Peace Summit at the U.S. Embassy in Liberia. The forum was intended to awaken the consciousness of young women from across Liberia on election and peace.

Leelai served as one of the Mentors for the Goldman Sachs sponsored CHF 10,000 Women Certificate Program for Women Entrepreneurship (CPWE) in Liberia from 2010 – 2014.

As an Advocate, Leelai was instrumental in negotiations with the Central Bank of Liberia which resulted to US$5 million stimulus package provided to Liberian owned-businesses. This facility provided easy access to finance through selected commercial banks to hundreds of Liberian-owned businesses covering low interest rate and longer term repayment period (2013-2018).

Leelai has been in the forefront of constructive engagements with the Liberian Government to create the enabling environment for Liberian-owned businesses to thrive and make significant impact in Liberia’s economic development. One of the notable outcomes of these engagements is:

A MoU signed between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Liberian Business Association to collaborate in capacity building programs for Liberian-owned SMEs, implementation of the Small Business Empowerment Law of 2014, which allows for 25% of procurement by the Government of Liberia Ministries, Agencies and Commissions, to be awarded to Liberian-owned businesses.

During the 2017 electioneering process in Liberia, Leelai undertook a series of campaigns at several Liberian-owned business premises and some local markets in Monrovia to engage with Liberian business women on the need to demonstrate peaceful posture during and after the elections.

Through her strong passion for development of the domestic private sector, Leelai has worked with several stakeholders, locally and internationally.

Led Liberia private sector delegation to London along with the Government of Liberia delegation, to participate in a UK-Liberia Partnership dialog – focusing on investing in infrastructure, energy and agriculture in Liberia.

Represents LIBA at the UNDP and UNMIL round-table with Stakeholders in Liberia,

One of the main actors to formulate legislation to regulate food and establish an effective standard authority to govern consumer products,

Led LIBA delegation to participate in Improved Business and Investment Climate in Africa Conference. Sponsored by European Union and implemented by the World Bank in Lagos, Nigeria,

Served as co-panelist at the UNMIL Entrepreneur Fair intended to transition UNMIL employees into the private sector,

Participated in discussion on Trade Facilitation Agreement of the WTO that led to Liberia’s accession to the WTO in 2016 and IMF annual meeting in Washington, DC,

Participated in ILO conference in Geneva, Switzerland and the United Nations High Level Panel, on post 2015 Millennium Development Goal Meeting in 2013 in Monrovia, Liberia.

In 2014, Leelai was humbled to have accommodated in one of her properties some of the first ECOWAS Multinational Medical Doctors who helped in the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus in Liberia.

Africa agrees to a giant trade bloc, South Africa and Nigeria sit it out

The African Union started talks in 2015 to establish a 55-nation bloc that would be the biggest in the world by member states, in a bid to increase intra-regional trade, which sits at a measly 15 percent of Africa’s total commerce.

Rwandan president Paul Kagame, host of an AU summit called to conclude the initial negotiations, declared the meeting a success after 44 African nations signed up to establish the free trade bloc within 18 months.

It was not immediately clear why South Africa and Nigeria stayed on the sidelines. Others staying out of the bloc were Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Zambia, Burundi, Eritrea, Benin, Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau.

“It would have been great if the two biggest economies on the continent, Nigeria and South Africa, had signed, but the most important is that the rest of the continent is sending a right message to these two biggest economies that we are moving ahead without you,” said Michael Kottoh, an analyst at Confidential Strategies in Ghana.

The project needed a minimum of 22 countries signing up to get off the ground and Kagame hailed the effort so far.

“What is at stake is the dignity and well-being of Africa’s farmers, workers and entrepreneurs,” he said.

According to the business community, African countries agreeing on the
highly anticipated intra-Africa trade regime will go a long way in positioning
Africa as one of the biggest markets, consequently inspiring innovation, industrialisation and growth.

Ali Mufuruki, Tanzanian businessman and founder of Infotech Investment Group,  said one of the reasons he is excited about the Continental Free Trade Area is that it will not only open trade borders for Africans making mobility less expensive, but it will also restore African “dignity.”

“As a businessperson, there is nothing that frustrates me like traveling across Africa. It is extremely expensive and difficult; it takes a long time, you need visas and when you get to the border you are told to wait and you see people from Europe and Asia being waived through like they live there. It is so sad.

‘‘But to get into the country and I am being valued and I am appreciated simply because I am African, makes my life happier. I think that is one reason I am very happy about this single market framework,” Mufuruki said.

Linda Ndungutse, the founder of Haute Baso, a local clothing brand, said that the reduction of trade barriers within the African market will lessen the cost of doing business for young entrepreneurs while widening their consumer market.

Patrick Nsenga Buchana, the Chief Executive Officer of AC Group – the brains behind the smart technology in public transport payment model (Tap and Go) that operates in Rwanda and Cameroon – said that the need to grow opportunities across borders and give young African companies the scale to compete on the global market is also a unique opportunity  that the continental free trade market presents.

Motivation as a currency

Recognition! We are so often focused on fixing the weaknesses in our businesses that we often forget to recognise our successes and the people that make them happen. This does not mean spending money, but it is about setting goals, working hard and then celebrating and rewarding success.

One of my businesses had an outbound telemarketing callcentre department as well as sales consultants on the road. The telemarketers would call clients on a twice-weekly basis for regular orders as well as cold-calling and following up on telephonic and quotes generated by the consultants on the road.

I had various incentives schemes in place on an individual level, as a team with “their” consultant as well as company targets. Sales initially increased and then plateaued.

We then implemented a recognition system for performance as well as a recognition system for “closing” new business (closing a sale by the customer accepting a quote that had been issued.)

Performance recognition was for the best sales figures and consisted of a small ceremony and their name being placed on a board on the wall.

A ritual symbolised the new business recognition. Once a quotation was accepted and signed by the customer, the sales person (telesales or external consultant) would go to an old-fashioned bell mounted in the showroom and were allowed to ring it as loudly as they wanted.

These small gestures increased the sales figures as much as the performance bonuses and where much cheaper.

An unintended consequence of this bell ringing was the sales volumes from the showroom increased. Customers felt the heightened energy of the staff and could see how successful and popular we where and this made closing the sale easier. It also motivated the administration and logistics staff as they felt the energy and new that the company was successful and was bringing in new business.

So ‪when it comes to rewarding your employees, cash is king—but only for a few hours. Money is not a long-term motivator. Sure, employees love cash — who doesn’t? — But finding ways to engage with them rather than pay them off will result in more loyal, harder working employees.‬‬‬

Here are some other ways to say, “I recognise you and appreciate all your hard work,” without destroying the budget.

• A thank you note. Saying thanks about something specific may be the ultimate reward. If you do it selectively yet authentically, a thank you note may be kept at your employee’s desk for years.
• Lunch party. Lunch with colleagues is fun, breaks up the routine and keeps employees in the office. It’s an all-around win for anyone who likes to eat.
• Outing. Take your employees for a tour of one of your vendors or suppliers’ facilities. It’s a cool way to learn more about whom you work with, and can be as fun as a school trip was in your school days.
• Letter from the Big Dog. Create a formal letter recognising your employee’s achievement. Sign it and use the company’s stamp or seal to give the letter something extra. If you really want to do it right, frame it too.
• Standing Ovation: Get all your employees together in the same room. Really pack them in. Then invite in the employee you’re recognising and give him or her a standing ovation.

Dale Carnegie, wrote a book, How to win friends and influence people that sold 15 million copies between 1936 and 2008. He said “People work for money but go the extra mile for recognition, praise and rewards.” He was right.

The week that wasn’t

ENN Africa has been live for a week and boy where we challenged

After our website went live on 2 January 2018 and our South African partner, Hustle Central went live with their radio show, we have had a rough time and learnt a lot.

We decided to go live on 2 January as it would enable a “soft” landing as most people would not be at work yet and we can iron out the few bugs remaining before South Africa gets working in earnest. This was a great idea in theory and in practice it provide a lots of challenges and learnings for us.

When moving the site from the demo platform to the live one, a lot of things just stopped working (great idea to have a “soft” landing) however these challenges where not anticipated and the developers we needed where on holiday (not such a great idea launching during the “holidays”).

That is when I witnessed that team members who share your vision will do what it takes to get the job done.

Anyway the greatest learning for me is the value of the team and the power of committed people. If you don’t have a team, get one, if you have a team, appreciate the members who share your vision
Students who don`t adopt good citizenship instructional post practices may struggle with future online assignments, and may even have trouble securing a job, as more and more careers revolve around technology.