How Liberia’s New Generation Of Female Entrepreneurs Is Revitalizing The Economy
Thursday, April 20, 2017
As a child, Odelia Acolyte fled her home of Liberia to neighboring Nigeria to escape the bloodshed of civil war. But she returned home frequently to visit family and always felt that what would help people in her country most would be to give them a job. “When I would go home, I would always find people sitting around,” says Acolyte, “I wanted to be part of change in society.”
That dream stayed with her for close to a decade, and following her return to Liberia, she became the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college, earning a sociology degree from United Methodist University in Monrovia in the capital. The idea remained alive even after she found a prized job with a local telecommunications company in Monrovia, one of only a limited number of formal, private sector jobs in a country where the International Labour Organization estimates that nearly 20% of men and 35% of women are unemployed.
So one year ago, Acolyte founded JET-Del Housekeeping Services, a startup that aims to be the Jiffy Maids of Liberia. With cleanliness and fighting germs on everyone’s minds following the devastation of the Ebola crisis, JET-Del is positioning itself as part of the solution.
Acolyte is part of a new generation of entrepreneurs helping Liberia recover, following the carnage of the outbreak and the country’s years’- long civil war that ended in 1997. Focused on growing employment opportunities and filling market needs, these young entrepreneurs are emerging to help push the country toward economic sustainability and prosperity even while international aid organizations pack up and go home