The Liberian Social Enterprise Special Economic Zone (SESEZ) is a public-private endeavor to jumpstart economic recovery in the wake the devastating Ebola epidemic. The economic impact is “as much a tragedy and disaster as the disease,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Liberia needs the world’s support to rebuild. We are asking you to join us in supporting the enactment of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) legislation that would enable us to accelerate recovery through the establishment of the Social Enterprise SEZ.
Social and economic concerns were collected from stakeholders that could benefit from SESEZ. These concerns were aligned with national goals of the government and goals developed by the SESEZ partnership to create a joint understanding of the desired socio-economic impact that should be achieved by the private sector and, more specifically, the zone. We examined how the private sector can play a role in addressing these social and economic development goals and at the same time accelerate their own growth, while utilizing the framework of a special economic zone to address challenges related to the business climate and the economic impact of the recent epidemic.
The objective of Liberia’s first SESEZ is to 1) develop an improved investment and doing business climate, in an industrial space that supports investment and inclusive private sector growth, and 2) attract local and international companies who’s operations inherently contribute to socio-economic development in Liberia.
To inspire investor confidence in a climate where ease of doing business and economic stability still require some time for improvement, a Special Economic Zone can immediately address the challenges and concerns related to both policy and infrastructural constraints. The SESEZ will create favorable conditions for investors and entrepreneurs creating more opportunities to grow job opportunities. In this way, we can address many of the obstacles identified in Liberia’s private sector. Additionally, we believe it's critical to focus on developing sectors and industries with the greatest potential to become competitive regionally and globally.
These are the industries that if given a little push, can generate inclusive economic growth by offering globally competitive production in the long-term. To determine this we worked on a detailed understanding of Liberia's social, economic, physical, and historic aspects. Questions were asked like: What has Liberia done well in the past and what does Liberia well today? What is available in abundance? Where can Liberia be competitive? What advantages does Liberia’s geographic location provide? Which industries and trading partners benefit from existing policies? What industries offer long-term environmental, social, and economic sustainability? Which sectors offer the greatest opportunity for broad-based inclusion?
Not quite... in Liberia, we’ve worked with entrepreneurs, policy makers, Liberian business associations, commerce groups, and the public to define the concept of a social enterprise. We created a broad local consensus around the concept of social enterprise, and inserted this in our program. In doing so, we are making sure the SESEZ is not just a space exclusively for social enterprises but an SEZ that delivers social impact through its operation and policies.
Social enterprise refers to a private sector driven strategy for tackling socio-economic and environmental challenges that are not at current addressed by existing public or private sector activity. In Liberia, the private sector is seen as contributing to socio-economic development by:
For example, the establishment of a cannery would address many social and environmental problems in Liberia. This might not initially come to mind when you think of a social enterprise, however, access to food storage and preservation would drastically reduce post-harvest losses, improve profits for farmers, improve food security and access to nutritious food, provide manufacturing jobs, reduce dependence on food imports, enable diversification of exports, and support more production and work for farmers. Firms that close these types of existing gaps can act as catalysts for growing whole sectors, helping to recover revenues lost during the Ebola epidemic.
The SESEZ delivers a globally competitive industrial space for socially conscious companies through:
The SESEZ delivers on social and economic development goals through the provision of fair working conditions and wages, and by attracting companies who are focused on the long-term success of Liberian markets. The benefits of operating inside the SESEZ translate to impact well beyond the gates of the zone by:
The SESEZ program offers development and revitalization for the community where it is located. In working with the community, SESEZ will focus on its specific needs. Whether its providing draining and road infrastructure, housing and hospitals, or renovating a school which serves the community; the SESEZ program is committed to delivering on the needs of the community at every level of Liberian society.
The Liberia Better Business Forum strives to build a vibrant domestic Private Sector through investment that works with the Government of Liberia to create employment and economic growth for all in Liberia. LBBF is led by a Governing Board, which oversees the content and operation of the forum. The Board is co-chaired by a public and private sector representative. Comprised of public and private sector participants along with representatives of civil society and academia, LBBF engages dialogue aimed at improving the investment climate and increasing Private Sector participation in economic policy-making in Liberia; ensuring that the Private Sector is fully engaged as a partner with Government to contribute evidence-based recommendations and inputs into economic planning and policy. Focused on analyzing identified issues and barriers to doing business in Liberia, LBBF lobbys and advocates viable recommendations for reform and supporting the development of awareness creation, inclusion, consensus building, and cooperation within the Private Sector.
SPARK is an independent international development organisation with offices in South-east Europe, Middle-East and Africa. SPARK focuses on youth, between 18-35 years, equipping them with knowledge, tools and motivation that allow them to play a unique role in leading their conflict affected societies into prosperity. SPARK believes that sustainable economic growth is essential for establishing self-reliance and thereby poverty alleviation. Creating jobs for youth in conflict affected societies and enabling an environment for youth to improve their socioeconomic position, are central in this vision. Through job creation SPARK aims to diminish the potential for conflict, giving special attention to marginalised groups, including women, returning refugees and internally displaces people.
Drenl is a developer of materials recovery and low-carbon renewable energy projects - in particular Energy from Waste (EfW) schemes. Delivering affordable, low carbon renewable energy solutions for local communities across the globe, using the best in class technologies, Drenl brings power to the people. Developing sites capable of accepting a mix of renewable energy solutions such as combined heat and power are of particular interest.
SPCitI explores and guides innovative urban planning processes. Based on a set of principles and the specific understanding of local context, it brings together people, knowledge and disciplines in a multi-stakeholder approach. The result is the organization and implementation of a collective planning strategy. The strategy includes ambitions, roles and responsibilities, commitment to projects. All stakeholders have clear agreements and mutual benefits. SpcitI has wide international guiding a variety of planning strategies and projects across the world with local partners.
The University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership has partnered with the SESEZ program through one of their Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Business research groups. The purpose of this research is to investigate the influence of spill-over effects in maximizing social impact in Liberia. Please take a moment to participate in their survey and become part of the SESEZ Program.
The SESEZ program is always looking for valuable new partnerships that can help strengthen the commitment to achieving our goals; developing inclusive economic growth and recovery in Liberia. Through collaborative partnerships and knowledge sharing networks, the SESEZ Program welcomes the opportunity to broaden our technical assistance and support base. To learn how you or your organization can contribute and/or partner in the delivery of the Liberian SESEZ Program, please contact the program.