Though the majority of CO.STARTERS partners are based in the United States, CO.STARTERS also partners with global organizations working to support entrepreneurship in their communities.
One of these partners is Sinapis, an East African network that “supports and empowers entrepreneurs professionally and spiritually through training, coaching, consulting, and connection to resources.”
They currently offer a variety of entrepreneurial programs across East Africa and support partners in South and Central America and other African regions, including the West African country of Liberia.
Entrepreneurship in Liberia
Like in many American communities, entrepreneurs in Liberia are often ill-equipped with the know-how and business knowledge necessary to launch a sustainable business—an inherently risky endeavor.
One article, called “Why Do Most Small Businesses in Liberia Fail?”, says that “the study [done for the article] revealed that poor business planning is the main factor responsible for the failure of most small businesses in Liberia.”
However, sustainable businesses are the bedrock of any thriving economy—including Liberia’s.
According to Nelson Amo, the founder and CEO of Innohub, entrepreneurship in Liberia is vital for national security, food security, education, and health.
“The only way to create jobs is entrepreneurship,” Amo explained, “If businesses don’t thrive, survive, and grow, there’s no way jobs could be created. So entrepreneurship in our economies is not a nice thing to do—it’s the thing to do.”
That conviction led to the formation of iStart Liberia.
"The CO.STARTERS program goes far beyond a solid entrepreneurship curriculum. CO.STARTERS knows how to create an experience that results in supportive communities of innovative, purpose-driven, scaling businesses. We're thrilled to have partnered with CO.STARTERS to tailor this experience for entrepreneurs in emerging markets around the world, and hundreds of entrepreneurs have launched or grown their businesses because of it."
-Sylvie Somerville, Director of Impact and Global Network at Sinapis
In February of 2023, Sinapis and the business accelerator and impact investment platform Innohub launched the iStart Liberia program, a virtual business bootcamp which uses the CO.STARTERS Core program—and one of the program partners was CO.STARTERS.
CO.STARTERS’ belief that investing in local entrepreneurs, no matter where they are across the world, will build a flourishing entrepreneurial community made them a natural partner for the work Sinpais and Innohub are leading.
"The CO.STARTERS program goes far beyond a solid entrepreneurship curriculum,” Sylvie Somerville, the Director of Impact and Global Network at Sinapis, explained. “CO.STARTERS knows how to create an experience that results in supportive communities of innovative, purpose-driven, scaling businesses. We're thrilled to have partnered with CO.STARTERS to tailor this experience for entrepreneurs in emerging markets around the world, and hundreds of entrepreneurs have launched or grown their businesses because of it."
The business bootcamp was a huge success, with an impressive 90 Liberian entrepreneurs signing up for the virtual program. Throughout the 6 weeks, the entrepreneurs discussed topics like customer service, public relations, business modeling and development, and accounting.
The iStart Liberia program concluded with a pitch competition with a cash prize for the two winners. Finda Harriet Caillendee, the CEO of a plantain-based baby cereal company, and Phoebe Z. Suomie, the CEO of a hair growth oil company, each won 1000 euros for their businesses.
iStart Liberia is just one manifestation of the collaborative work between Sinapis and Innohub to realize Amo’s vision to bolster and support entrepreneurship in Liberia.
CO.STARTERS’s commitment to clear, straightforward entrepreneurship programs that invest deeply in a community’s local entrepreneurs aided the iStart Liberia virtual business bootcamp—and, hopefully, is just the beginning of CO.STARTERS’s work to support African entrepreneurs.