Liberians are generally warm people with a rich culture. Liberia’s artistic traditions are strong, but this is especially true in the country’s interior. The country’s capital, Monrovia, generally reflects a more Western culture. Below please find basic information about the social landscape of Liberia as you consider investing. The information contained here is intended for investors and foreign workers alike.
Liberia’s financial system is comprised of nine commercial banks with 87 branches spread across 10 of the 15 counties; 11 rural community finance institutions (similar to community banks owned by residents of the community) operating in nine of the fifteen counties, including those counties that do not have banking services; 20 insurance companies with 31 branches located mainly in the economically viable areas; 16 microfinance institutions; one deposit-taking microfinance institution; one credit institution; 120 foreign exchange bureaus; four regional credit unions; and two mobile network service providers (mobile money). All of these institutions are under the ambit of the Central Bank of Liberia, the regulator, and the supervisor of the overall financial landscape.
The international money transfer operators are required to partner with banks in the provisions of their services, which include Western Union, Money Gram, SIKA card, and RIA; notwithstanding, exclusivity is not required under the legislation of Liberia.
E-Payment Solution (or the eCard) is one of the newest financial service instruments being introduced in the Liberian financial system, though it has been operating in other economies in and outside of the region. The e-card started in Liberia in 2009 through one of the nine banks, and to date, we have three banks currently providing visa cards while two others are providing proprietary cards. Even though the use of visa cards in volume by customers was_ low then, there is a growing need for visa cards amongst banks’ customers, which expedites business sales while at the same time working on the GoL’s policy to move to a cashless society in the medium term. To date, we have a total of 59 ATMs and 94 Point of Sale terminals located in key businesses in the country.
The licensing of two mobile network service providers has also increased the mobile money landscape in Liberia. Mobile Money service in Liberia is providing a number of services, including remittances, payments of goods & services, payments of civil servant salaries, social workers, teachers, etc.
As a means of enhancing access to finance, especially in the rural areas, the CBL established 11 rural community finance institutions (RCFIs) in collaboration with one of the commercial banks involved in agriculture financing. RCFIs provides financial programs for farmers to grow and develop their farmlands and improve their small businesses, amongst other opportunities.
In order to create an enabling environment for businesses under the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to have access to financing without the provision of unmovable collaterals such as real estate and hard collaterals, the CBL established a collateral registry in conjunction with the International Finance Corporation to allow creditors the opportunity to register secure interests pledged by debtors as guarantee to acquire loans/ credit. Since the introduction of the collateral registry in the Liberian financial environment, the growth in lending to the MSMEs by lending institutions has been increasing on a yearly basis.
The CBL has an active website, www.cbl.org.lr, where anyone has the opportunity to search for information on the economy, including the Bank, overview of the Liberian economy, etc.
Apartments and homes are available for rent in Liberia. The price, size, and style will vary according to the county and city of residence. When considering a place of residence in Liberia, one should consider signing a comprehensive lease agreement, security, and electricity.
Although restaurants serving various cuisines from around the world can be found in Monrovia, traditional Liberian dishes are, of course, more readily available.