In Liberia, Locally-Produced Furniture Gets a Financial Boost

Emmanuel Wesley, owner of Zeo Furniture Construction, will use his loan to add a showroom to feature his custom-made doors and furniture.

Emmanuel Wesley Sr. is determined to dispel the long-held notion that Liberia doesn’t produce good quality home and office furniture. Wesley is owner and chief executive officer of Zeo Furniture Construction Company in Paynesville, outside Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. He is confident in the quality of his product, and his goal is for Zeo to produce a large volume of excellent furniture that competes with imported furniture.

But Wesley has faced a significant obstacle in meeting his goal: lack of financing options and access to commercial credit. Liberia has one of the most complex loan application processes in Africa, and Wesley struggled to understand the process and requirements.

Through a routine outreach campaign, Wesley learned about the USAID-funded Investing for Business Expansion Program, which IESC implements. The program provides services to financial institutions and small and medium businesses to increase access to finance, grow businesses, and expand the economy. He immediately established a relationship with the program.

Wesley had previously applied for a business loan, and IBEX reviewed his loan application package and provided additional recommendations. For example, Wesley did not have a bank account and therefore had no longstanding relationship with the bank. IBEX recommended that he open one, and after several months of preparations that included cash flow and risk analyses, he was finally approved for a $40,000 loan.

‘At some point during the loan process I felt frustrated and almost gave up, but through the help of the program and relationship built with the bank, things started to become smoother.”

He plans to use the loan to buy raw materials to produce high quality furniture products that will meet international standards and needs of the local market. Zeo currently has 25 employees and with the capital to expand the business, Wesley plans to hire more workers in the future.

This story is made possible with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the sole responsibility of IESC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.