“Liberia presented more opportunities for growth then the
U.S., Jefyne Bates explained the reason she left the United States forthe West African Country.
“I was tired of corporate America.” Bates, who had worked
in the U.S. banking industry, found climbing the corporate ladder(in America) to be a daunting task. Liberia, she says, offered moreroom to grow professionally.
Bates was born in America’s mid‐west to Liberian parents. Growing up, she says that she did not learn much about the countryher parents referred to as home. According to Bates, her parentsdid not talk much about the country until she was much older. She no idea what it was like. Bates, like many young people raised by Liberian parents in the America (after 1990) knew little about the country except that it was plagued by brutal civil wars and unrest for over a decade. Around age six‐teen, she visited Liberia for the first time. For Bates, the trip was very educational. According to her, Liberia appeared to be “a place that was more or less (the) survival of the fittest.” She says that the country had many opportunities. However, they were not easy to come across. One had to be able to navigate around various obstacles in order to reach or find them. But opportunities were there.
Years later, in 2009, Bates, (also the mother of two boys) made the move to Liberia.
The plan was to help her mother (who had returned to Liberia a few years earlier) open and
operate a new bottled water company. After starting the job at her mother’s company, the
new Liberian resident found herself also providing business related services for some of her
mother’s colleagues. They needed help with things like business plans. As she completed
work for them, she got more referrals. Her clientele list began to grow. She then decided to
form Katurah Incorporated, a company that would provide services she was already offering.
According to Bates, after forming Katurah Inc., she was asked (by several people) about job
opportunities in the country. She wanted to help locate these openings, because she was sure that they to existed. Career Expo 2011 was born out of the need to help. Bates organized the event, which provided professional skills workshops and linked job seekers with local companies. She found the event to be a huge success. More companies (have since) contracted Katurah for business services and event planning. Because of the success of the event, Bates organized another, Career Expo 2012. The event, which took place in early 2012, brought together more employers and potential employees.
“Human resources, and not just infrastructure, is a valuable asset to any economy,”
Bates says. She believes that public and private companies (in Liberia) should be able to hire Liberians instead of importing employees. However, in order for that to happen effectively, an investment must be made in the area of work force development. She says that companies like Katurah can play a major role in helping the country grow in that aspect.
Bates believes that her decision to move to Liberia has been a good one for her family.
“The boys love being free,” she says about them running around in their yard. “They do
not have to go to daycare.” She does, however, miss little conveniences like the occasional trip to the fast food restaurant.
Bates does have some advise for anyone relocating to Liberia from the United States.
“Keep and open mind and do not try to compare Liberia to the States, otherwise you will not make it. Have clear set goals and keep pushing for them. Living in Liberia is not easy, and its only with perseverance you will achieve your goals.”
Visit the link below to learn more about Jefyne and Katurah.