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"Small-Small" Things Make a Big Difference

By Partners Worldwide - Matthew is the proud owner of the self-titled business “Matthew’s Transportation Service” where he works as a taxi driver. Last year Matthew completed a three month business training program and concurrent savings program through Liberian Entrepreneurial and Asset Development (LEAD). This qualified him for a $750 loan, which he invested into much needed repairs for his cars.

One of the most important lessons he applied to his business was to put himself and his two employees on a regular salary. This has allowed Matthew to take care of himself and his employees, while also protecting his business assets. Matthew was proud of his ability to follow through on this, and in contrast to his former practice of paying himself and employees intermittently based on profits, the new boundaries and salaries have been good for his business, good for his employees, and good for himself and his family.

This unassuming taxi business is able to support Matthew’s family of six, as well as his two employee’s families, making a total of eighteen people who are supported by this one business. It is easy to over look the significance of small businesses; but when faced with the reality that because of this business eighteen people have enough to eat, eighteen people have proper homes to live in and a dozen kids are now in school, the real impact of employment becomes a reality.

In Liberia, many people sell what they call “small-small things.” This means they have a table at the local market and sell everything from spice packets to tissue paper. It can be overwhelming, all that enterprising, all those folks buying and selling, trying to make enough for the day. But behind all that effort and passionate selling are all the families they are supporting, all those children, all those elderly grandparents. The need to take care of our families is something all of us can relate to, a common need shared across cultures and generations, as true in Africa as it is in North America. The ripple effect of the work of Partners Worldwide means that when we empower these entrepreneurs, all their families get taken care of. It’s a powerful reality. You might look and just see a beat-up yellow taxicab, but if you look a closer you will see three happy families, including a bunch of really cute, smiling Liberian kids. And a proud business owner who knows why his business matters.

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posted by Justin Forman | 10.01.2009 - 7:40 AM

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