The Institute of Public Administration and Management on Monday 3rd December 2007 organised a one day round table on entrepreneurship at the British Council Hall, Tower Hill, Freetown. Giving his welcome address, the organizer and moderator of the conference, Dr. Alusine Jalloh gave the definition of Entrepreneurship which he said entails both mindset and behaviour, that pursue opportunities to create value inspite of limited resources.
Dr. Jalloh said Sierra Leone needs to do more to promote an entrepreneur culture in both private and public sectors, and mentioned that one way to achieve entrepreneur culture was to promote entrepreneur education starting from the primary school level.
In her presentation, the Director at Ministry of Trade & Industry in charge of the Policy, Planning and Research Division, Ms. Beatrice Dove–Edwin, said Sierra Leoneans over-rely on the government which reliance culture, she said, we must as a nation, try to do away with and replace with entrepreneurship thought. She said the latter thought focuses on what can we do to help ourselves develop further rather than what government should do for us.
Ms. Dove-Edwin said Sierra Leoneans must learn to be self reliant instead of relying on donors and the central or local governments to improve our lives. She dismissed the myth that Government has a lot of money saying that on the contrary, it was the private sector and individuals that control money. She said the only way one can become rich was if one engaged in some private business.
Another speaker highlighted a significant problem facing entrepreneurs which he said was the copycat mentatlity where a successful entrepreneur will see a string of copycat businesses follow suit instead of those business people being more innovative. He said such copycat mentality limited our ability as a Nation to use our full potential to develop various and diverse businesses. Also, speaker after speaker insisted that to be an entrepreneur, one needed to do something that no one has ever tried.
For his part, Dr. John Mbonu the Managing Director of Sierra Leone Brewery Limited said Government must force commercial banks to set aside some amount of money which they will be giving as long term loans payable up to fifteen years to business groups or people to do business and that government should encourage big investors like the Sierra Leone Brewery to invest even further into the economy. Dr. Mbonu informed that Brewery already has contracts with local farmers for certain of their supplies which successful conclusion, he said would have a multiple effect on the economy.
In his concluding statement, Dr. Alusine Jalloh said that MBA student at IPAM as well as undergraduates do have a big role to play in the future for the betterment of the country by setting up businesses based on entrepreneurship. He called for IPAM to be at the Centre of the collective effort to solve some of the nation’s challenges like employment and wealth creation. He pointed out that the University has a very big role to play, to work with the business sector for the betterment of the country. Dr. Jalloh said for Sierra Leone to prosper though entrepreneurship we need to change some values regarding our political orientations, work, ethics, savings, productivity, and investment. Dr. Alusine Jalloh is Associate Professor of History and the founding Director of the African Program at the University of Texas at Arlington. He specializes in African entrepreneurship.
Dr. Jalloh’s publications include Black business and Entrepreneurship, Muslim Fula merchants in Sierra Leone, Islam & Trade in Sierra Leone and the African Diaspora. He is currently a visiting professor at IPAM teaching postgraduate courses on entrepreneurship.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.