RLJ Companies' Focus Areas: Education, Private Sector Development
RLJ Companies' Involvement: Three years ago, Bob Johnson had the opportunity to hear President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf speak during the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and talk about her ambitions for a war-torn Liberia. She emphasized the need to revitalize Liberia’s private sector so the country could become an engine of development, especially as it concerns job creation, skills enhancement, and revenue generation. Mr. Johnson was very impressed with President Johnson-Sirleaf and made a commitment to mobilize $30 million for Liberia after hearing her speak of her work to revitalize Liberia.
Mr. Johnson’s first commitment led to the creation of the RLJ Liberia Enterprise Development Finance Company (LEDFC), which is a partnership between The RLJ Companies, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), and CHF International. Through LEDFC, we make loans to small and medium businesses in Liberia between $25,000 and $1 million. To date, LEDFC has lent nearly $2 million to businesses in a variety of sectors.
During a subsequent visit to Liberia, Mr. Johnson noticed the need for a new resource and business opportunity. It was apparent, that since there had been no new hotel construction in Liberia for 20 years, and with the number of professional and business visitors increasing rapidly, there was a great need for a new hotel development that would service both business and leisure travelers in the country. Once again, RLJ teamed up with OPIC to build the RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas – a 78-room villa style hotel on 13-acres of beautiful ocean front property in the Paynesville section of Monrovia. Through our work on the resort, we were able to hire and employ over 500 Liberian laborers.
Mr. Johnson and the RLJ Companies are very committed to future projects in Liberia and to the Liberian people. When President Sirleaf was elected, Liberia faced a collapsed economy, destroyed infrastructure, and very little hope. However, much progress has been made through her efforts and there are tremendous new opportunities to rebuild. She is such an extraordinary leader with a positive message and vision for her country. Her leadership has been extraordinary and she has made an enormous contribution to her country during her three year tenure as President. As a result, The RLJ Companies has a broader commitment, outside the hotel, in the country and Mr. Johnson believes that you will soon start to see many other American businesses start doing business inside the country as well.