Monday, June 05, 2006


The first is Beatrice, who owns a business called "Mother and Son". She ran a used clothing business which was destroyed in the 2003 war, and has since started a cold water business. Every day, she buys 50 containers of purified cold water, each container holding 30 half liter bags for a total of 1500 bags. These bags are purchased by smaller retailers who run up and down the road calling “co’ wa’ co’ wa' co’ wa’,” to passengers in cars or pedestrians. Each bag sells for 5 Liberian dollars (about 10 US cents). After President Sirleaf’s inauguration, the Liberian Government announced that markets were too close to the streets and had to be moved back at least six feet. Businesses were given three months to do this, although provisions for new market space were not readily provided. Those who did not comply had their structures torn down by the police. Beatrice lost her market space and has now set up an umbrella further back from the road, and further back from her primary client—thirsty taxi drivers. If she does not sell all of her bags of water she no longer has a shack to store her inventory, so she is borrowing space in the trunk of a broken down station wagon next door. Beatrice did not go very far in school and is working hard to learn what she can from LEAD; she is very positive about the future. She hopes to use the money from the loan of LEAD to build a permanent, safer structure for her inventory, as well as invest in additional capital for her business, including a freezer to keep the water cold.

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