Improving Entrepreneurs' Interpersonal Skills to Increase SME Revenues in Liberia

The Liberian Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector—representing about 96% of the country’s business entities—declined significantly during the Ebola outbreak. Many businesses closed or downsized in this period. Additionally, the number of missed repayments by small enterprise microfinance borrowers increased among BRAC Liberia Microfinance customers. “Inadequate business skills and knowledge” is one of four critical challenges to the SME sector that the Government of Liberia has identified. In an effort to enhance the sector’s performance, the government provided some training in customer service, business planning, and access to finance, procurement, marketing, and accounting services. However, training to improve interpersonal relations and integrity with customers is limited despite evidence that good customer relations are linked to customer contentment. A team of local PEP researchers, therefore, sought to investigate the potential benefits of SMEs taking a customer oriented approach (relative to other managerial skills).