The American Refugee Committee, based in Minneapolis, has sold its Liberian Microfinance Bank, Liberty Finance, LLC to DCRB Investments. DCRB is a company registered in Liberia and includes former members of the Liberian Diaspora in Minnesota now based in Liberia. Sale terms were not disclosed (We will be talking to the ARC CFO later tonight who is en route from Liberia and will update as necessary).
Among the group of four that form DCRB is a former candidate for Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Wynfred Russell, who also ran a competitive race in 2012 for a City Council seat and missed it by a mere five votes. Russell, a former instructor at the University of Minnesota, is now an international policy analyst, providing consulting services for various international management agencies.
Liberty Finance has seven branches in Liberia including in the capital Monrovia. Since its opening in 2005, it has built a client base of over 1,800 82% of whom are women according to numbers provided by ARC. The bank clients run market-based businesses and receive loans averaging $250. ARC president Daniel Wordwsorth said the loans enabled thousands of business owners to become self-sufficient.
The bank employs 33 local Liberians.
The American Refugee Committee made the sale announcement this morning and in a follow up interview with Mshale said the sale of Liberty should wrap up its activities in Liberia. “It is always a good thing when we close operations in a country as it means things are back to normal,” Therese Gales, Communications Director at ARC said in a phone interview.
ARC entered Liberia at the height of the Liberian civil war and after emergency operations ended stayed on in 2005 to start and run the bank, a move Wynfred Russell commended when he spoke with Mshale earlier today. “ARC unlike many other relief organizations stayed with Liberians for a much longer period to help the entrepreneurs be self-sufficient,” Russell said. Russell is the only one of the four partners of DCRB Investments that is still based in Minnesota. The rest are in Liberia.
“It is a good thing when these major international organizations hand over major operations like this (microfinance) to locals”, Russell said.
DCRB Investments hailed the sale as a “national milestone”.The group said that its vision is to build Liberty into an organization that is committed to the transformation of Liberia’s vulnerable populations, including the youth, women, men, and persons with disabilities. “We aim to build and cultivate their entrepreneurial skills to enable them to become resilient against the stresses that lead to mass poverty,” DCRB said in its statement.
“With this sale to local Liberian professionals, we are confident Liberty Finance will remain in good hands,” Daniel Wordsworth, American Refugee Committee president said.
Who is DCRB Investments?
DCRB is a privately held company registered in Liberia and consists of four individuals:
- Mr. Wynfred N. Russell— lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and taught at the University of Minnesota, North Hennepin Community College, and Century College. Wynfred currently works as an International Policy Analyst, providing consulting services for various international management agencies, including TRANTEC, S.A. of Belgium and US-based DJ Curley.
- Dr. Emmanuel Dolo—is a former health administrator from the Academic Health Center of the University of Minnesota and now serves as the National Youth Policy Advisor to the President of Liberia.
- Dr. Alfredmy Chessor-Samukai—is a medical doctor who worked at Park Nicollet Clinic in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, and now serves as the CEO of Family Health Center in Paynesville, Liberia.
- Mr. Rufus S. Berry II, MBA—is the CEO of B & G Inc., a financial and management consulting firm based in Monrovia, Liberia.
About Tom Gitaa Gitaa
Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.
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