THE STORY OF TERRANCE BALLAH
Terrance Ballah, 30, returned to Liberia after years in Sierra Leone. He is one of nearly 700 people who had 120 hours of entrepreneurship development training.
“I received a certificate in auto-electricity, learned about fault-finding, repairing, replacement and maintenance. They also taught us about entrepreneurship, customer service, and how to be efficient while working,” he said.
Once he finished the training, Ballah was able to sustain himself and with his earnings he paid for a specialized course in electronic technics. Right after that he followed his entrepreneurial dream and, together with a friend, opened his own business.
“The training helped me improve my life. Before, I was dependent on my brothers and sisters, but now I became self-employed and I do everything for myself,” he added.
More than 1000 returnees successfully completed the training with hopes of being able to support their families and start a new life after the war. However, the Ebola virus epidemic in Liberia from 2014 to 2015 delayed their plans and only after the crisis passed could many find the so-longed livelihood.
A follow-up study on the role of UNIDO’s training on the economic integration of repatriated refugees in Liberia, published in 2017, shows a clear improvement in the employment and income status of the Liberians who decided to come back.
“With the diminishing of the external shock of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, the findings of this follow-up study better demonstrate the potential of vocational training programmes for the reintegration of repatriates in Liberia,” the report stated.
Ballah is married and has a child, he and his business partner can be found in their workshop every day, repairing different electronic devices.
Gage works from home, she makes curtains, pillows and bedsheets, and dreams about having her own shop where she can showcase her products and expand her business.
“I believe it was the right choice to come back home. I feel good about coming home. The opportunities I have now would never have been available in a foreign country as a refugee,” says Ballah.