SIERRA LEONE AT A GLANCE
Population: 5.7 million (2011)
GDP per capita: $341 (2011)
A lengthy civil war that ended in 2001 badly damaged Sierra Leone’s economy, which continues to suffer from weak infrastructure, high unemployment, and limited investment.
Confidence has been rising along with stability, however, and Sierra Leone’s commitments to improving public services and strengthening and diversifying its private sector are laying the foundation for future growth.
IFC’s CASA Initiative is helping strengthen smaller businesses in Sierra Leone and is working with the government and private sector partners to introduce regulatory improvements to the country’s investment climate.
Supporting Smaller Businesses
IFC is helping improve access to finance in Sierra Leone for individuals and smaller businesses through microfinance and leasing programs.
IFC’s SME Ventures Program is providing risk capital and advisory services to Sierra Leone’s smaller businesses, which are also receiving training support through IFC’s Business Edge and SME Toolkit training products. These products offer financial and management courses specially-tailored for Sierra Leone.
CASA is also providing advisory support to the National Revenue Authority, which has authorized all major banks to accept tax payments. In the past, taxpayers could pay their taxes only at tax offices, so this innovation is saving taxpayers a considerable amount of time.
Improving the Investment Climate
A major focus of IFC’s work in Sierra Leone is supporting improvements to the investment climate. These efforts have led to a number of important legal changes that are boosting business growth, and include: tax simplification, the reduction of fees for exporters and importers, and greater ease obtaining credit information and construction permits.
CASA also helped Sierra Leone create an investor guide that details the priority areas of investment, as well as incentives offered to investors by the government.
Going forward, IFC and the CASA Initiative will also focus efforts on supporting growth in Sierra Leone’s important agribusiness sector.