Never Forget Your People: An Entrepreneur Returns Home
“Go!” They called. “It’s not safe here!”
So they left. An entire village emptied as residents fled to neighboring Guinea in the face of the Liberian civil war. For eight years the village sat deserted while the community that had occupied it lived as refugees of war.
But when peace returned, so did people. Slowly. Darius’ father was the first. Even in the midst of lingering tension and unrest, he began to rebuild -- driven by the admonition of his mother to never desert his village or forget his people.
This instruction has made its way to Darius.
“Don’t desert your village or forget your people.”
After the war was over, Darius completed his degree in agriculture and spent some time working in Liberia before moving to the United States – still driven by the dream of investing back into his village.
"I have lived in obedience to that injunction," Darius says. “In my sojourns to the USA I never forget my people, and their living conditions. It has always been my dream to improve their lives, especially the women's, through agribusiness and access to business capital.”
His time in the States has helped him make valuable connections as he pursues this goal. He has built relationships with mentors who walk alongside him as he explores how to best meet the needs of his community – and he is doing just that through agriculture and business.
Recently, he launched a new Local Community Institution in the Partners Worldwide network -- Future Farmers of Liberia for Empowerment of Women (FFLEW). It offers a microloan program to female farmers and entrepreneurs that enables them to grow their farms and businesses, send their children to school, and walk in dignity. In a visit with Darius, PW Business Affiliates, and PW staff, the village Chief and Elders donated 101 hectares (250 acres) to FFLEW in support of the program.
Because of Liberia’s fragile economy and political instability, Darius knows that it is a hard place to build a business. Essentials like feed grade corn have to be imported, and because there is not a strong developed network, entrepreneurs are mostly required to rely on themselves for every necessary service or input.
But he doesn’t let those challenges daunt him.
“With support from my community, local board, management team, BA team, and PW I feel blessed,” he says. “No challenge is insurmountable.”