Pandora is an entrepreneur but more than that she’s an optimist - read her story. 

Pandora Hodge has just secured a lease on 11th Street in Monrovia to open her restaurant, ‘Pandora’s Basket’ which will use local produce to create fresh, natural dishes.

It’s a big step forward for her business that, until now, has held a weekly pop-up cookery school and restaurant at different locations.

However, her ambition doesn’t stop there – she also planning on opening an art-house cinema on the university campus, having already staged several film screenings at local schools and halls which have attracted over 100 people. 

Pandora is an entrepreneur but more than that, she’s an optimist – she’s optimistic about her businesses, about the future of Liberia and, in her own words, about having “possibility in your life”.

Her optimism, passion and drive are all the more extraordinary given for years she lived with “clothes in a bag” in case she had to flee her once war-torn homeland. 

child on street liberia

street view

Liberia has emerged from decades of government mismanagement and civil war to become one of the fastest growing, most stables states in Africa. Still real challenges remain – 98% of the population aren’t on the electricity grid, 90% of land is unregistered, transport infrastructure is poor and internet penetration is about 1%. All of these factors make starting, building and running a business hugely difficult, yet Pandora is not alone. 

mango rags

Business is bustling – multi-nationals are investing in the mineral-rich country, creating supply chain opportunities for the 2,600 registered Liberian businesses.

Grasping this opportunity are entrepreneurs such as Archel Bernard, the founder of ‘Mango Rags’, a boutique in Monrovia selling vibrant coloured and beautifully tailored traditional clothing not only to the local ex-pat community but also internationally on her website.

Geneva Garr, who returned to Liberia following a period as a refugee in Ghana, is also putting her fashion design skills to use with her business ‘Approved Wear Fashion House’ which employs 12 people and has secured large contracts for school and company uniforms. 

There are clearly reasons to be optimistic about Liberia – Pandora, Archel and Geneva are three of those reasons. They are entrepreneurs who are a force for good – vital to the job creation and economic growth that will help underpin their country’s future. 

That’s why Virgin Unite and Humanity United are excited to support Liberian entrepreneurs through the Branson Entrepreneurship Scholarship programme launching in early 2014.

liberia sign

group Liberia

The programme will give 15 high potential Liberian entrepreneurs the opportunity to advance their business knowledge and training at the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in South Africa, as well as receiving on-going support and mentoring in Liberia, and will culminate in an opportunity to pitch to both national and international investors. 

We’ll keep you up to date as the project progresses. 

This week is Global Entrepreneurship Week and we are celebrating entrepreneurship as a force for good here on the Unite site.
Do you have any entrepreneurship stories from Liberia? We’d love to hear them below or @Virginunite

Support entrepreneurs like Pandora, Archel and Geneva by supporting our work at Virgin Unite. 100% of donations go to our frontline initiatives.

-Benjamin Hay