Written by Diamonds for Peace Liberia staff
Diamonds for Peace Liberia is a local NGO established to promote fair diamonds, and to provide self-reliant support to the artisanal diamond workers. It has a small office in the city of Kakata, and its activities are run in Liberia (Kakata is the capital of one of Liberia’s political subdivisions of Margibi County). This office was established in January of 2017. It is a one room office space in J.M. Kollie’s yard, located on lst Avenue, Mandingo Quarter, Kakata City. Upon its establishment, the office was relatively without any furniture; the office staff had to voluntarily provide some personal belongings like chairs and a small table for office use. Movement to conduct activities was also very challenging. It required me, as the coordinator, to board commercial vehicles in order to visit the field; this was a very inconvenient situation. It cost me many hours just to conduct even a small activity because I was always caught up in long and thick traffic. When traveling to the field outside of Monrovia, it took me many hours to get there because I had to wait at a bus or taxi terminal for a long time. At a terminal, vehicles will not pick up unless the full number of passengers is obtained. These were extremely challenging situations for conducting activities.
Today, the situation has improved; Diamonds for Peace Liberia now has an improved office furnished with office desk, office chairs, bookshelf, computers, and a printer. We also have one Suzuki motorbike for field operations. Though there is still more to be done to further improve the office, it is far more improved than what it was prior to the DFP’s crowdfunding initiative. The equipment in the office has aided the proper and orderly arrangement of all the office documents, and it is facilitating the smooth operation of its activities. The funds used to furnish the office were contributed by individual donors through the crowdfunding initiative. A large portion of the funds generated from the initiative was used to procure one Suzuki TF 125 off-road motorbike. The purchase of the motorbike was a huge boost to our operations; it addressed one of the major challenges we were faced with. With the use of the motorbike, I am now traveling from one place to the other and conveniently conducting activities.
The procurement of the motorbike didn’t come without challenges; as an NGO, we sought to procure the motorbike on a duty-free basis, which is one of the privileges NGOs operating in Liberia enjoy. However, as prescribed by the Liberian government, we needed to apply for and obtain duty-free status before the procurement. The obtainment of duty-free status required the submission of several documents: the NGO’s article of incorporation, business registration certificate, certificate of accreditation, annual activities report, an up-to-date employee payroll, and receipts on income tax to the Liberia Revenue Authority. These documents were submitted first to obtain a tax clearance, after which we applied for duty-free status; the process was challenging and it took quite some time.
Another challenge we encountered was with the collection of several quotations with detailed specifications from three different companies. Diamonds for Peace Liberia wanted to clearly understand all the terms and conditions that surrounded procurement of the motorbike and the after-purchase services with each of the companies in order to make the right choice of which company to buy from. For this reason, we had to repeatedly collect quotations one after the other from each of the three companies and it was time-consuming. Following this process, Diamonds for Peace Liberia finally decided on the company to buy the motorbike from on the basis of being duty-free. The Liberia Revenue Authority requested us to submit one letter of application for duty-free status along with several other documents, including the company’s current tax clearance and bill of sales on their imported goods. Diamonds for Peace Liberia had to submit the required documents through the company upon refusal to give its tax clearance and bill of sales to an outsider.
During the procurement process I found that collecting quotations from more dealers gives a buyer an advantage to make a better decision when buying a commodity. It also helps the buyer to get a better understanding of the after-purchase services that go along with the sale of a commodity. I also learned that the price tag on a commodity can be further negotiated.
As the coordinator in charge of the day-to-day activities, I’m extremely excited to extend profound thanks and appreciation to all the individual contributors to this initiative. Your support has helped us to take a huge step forward. If you can imagine what it takes to stand in one position for more than six hours waiting for a commercial vehicle before you can travel to your destination, then you will probably understand how we appreciate the donations.
Front photo:A view of DFPL office from the inside(DFP)