Ora Mato Barclay-Keller is a young Liberian entrepreneur who has worked for several years advocating for the rights of young Liberians, more specifically teenage mothers, to free and fair education.
In order to achieve that, she pursued her higher education in Foreign Policy, Liberian History and Economic Diplomacy Studies with Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Services Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Liberia. Soon enough she graduated with honors as President of her class and founded Girls for Change, a not-for-profit and non-governmental organization that aims to empower young women and promote education.
In 2013, Ora was introduced to the Business.in.a.Box/ E-Plus programme. She chose to develop a packaging business with innovative ideas to improve both design and quality of packages in Liberian farming industry. Liberian farmers often lose a considerable amount of their harvest due to lack of access to proper sealed packaging which seems to be an effective way of preserving harvest in Liberia. Ora’s products, Le Mirage International, will help farmers preserve their crops in vacuum sealing plastics and hence greatly increases the shelf life of the products.
In addition, the attractive design of the packages is expected to give a competitive edge to the products packed by Le Mirage International. Attractively packed products with an increased shelf life would make an ideal candidate for export which is the ultimate goal of any farmer. Given all the advantages of Ora’s newly based business, she envisions it to bloom in no time.
Over years of working with the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture, Ora has interacted with numerous farmers and has noticed that one of the challenges they face has to do with the packaging of their products. “I asked myself: how can they actually sell their products when those are not packed in a presenting way?” Ora explains about her motives and adds “You have to be visible in order to be able to compete on the global market and that is what my business aims at; to give visibility to local farming products.”
Le Mirage International currently with an annual turnover of 3000-3500 USD employs 5 Liberians. Ora is a visionary business woman with more than nine years of experience in office administration, financial management and logistics. Her goal: to create businesses that will benefit all. “My business will be one of the first of its kind in Liberia. It is going to help local farmers grow their business and advantages their products over those of their counterparts. Well packaged products will help them aim higher and go for competition in the global market.”
“To be the first female entrepreneurs to open a packaging company in Liberia” as Ora puts it is her new life ambition and she will work hard to make it happen.