Blog Archives | J-Palm Liberia

Turning ‘Waste’ into Wealth for Liberians

Yesterday J-Palm’s CEO Mahmud Johnson was announced as one of four recipients (out of 267 applicants under 40 years old) of the inaugural 40 Chances Fellowship. In this blog post, he discusses his (and Liberian entrepreneurs’) “40 Chances” to make a difference in Liberia.

Mahmud Johnson

Mahmud Johnson

I was barely a teenager when the most recent civil war broke out in Liberia, but I vividly recall the horror and trauma my family and I had to endure to survive the war – from being held hostages at gunpoint, to losing all of our belongings. It is an experience that has undoubtedly scarred me and thousands of other Liberian youth.

Years later, I was privileged to win a scholarship to study at Dartmouth College in the US. At Dartmouth, I took numerous political science classes that sought to unravel the underlying drivers of civil conflict. While I never came across a universally definitive theory, I got to understand the mutually-reinforcing relationship between underdevelopment and perverse political outcomes. I understand, both from a personal and an intellectual standpoint, how socioeconomic inequality, economic injustice, and severe poverty make countries more prone to civil war.

While we have relative stability today, there are still perturbations that threaten the peace. Two of the strongest risk factors are the alarming rate of youth unemployment, and – relatedly – the intergenerational persistence of poverty.

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Three innovative young African entrepreneurs working in agriculture

Anzisha-Prize-AAPEarlier this year, J-Palm’s CEO Mahmud Johnson was selected as a semifinalist for the Anzisha Prize, which is the premier prize for young African entrepreneurs. While Mahmud was not selected as a finalist, the experience provided significant media exposure for J-Palm. Here is an article that features J-Palm Liberia, in addition to two other really innovative and exciting agribusinesses run by young Africans. These entrepreneurs are creating a new frontier for social transformation across Africa, and are evidence of the continent’s promising future with continued investments in young agricultural entrepreneurs and researchers.

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