Liberia urged to invest remittances, not just spend them on everyday needs | Liz Ford

From Global development | The Guardian Wed Jan 30 2013, 18:40:49

Liberia receives money transfers equivalent to nearly a third of GDP, but one entrepreneur wants more invested in local businesses

The Western Union booth in the Monoprix supermarket in Monrovia, Liberia, is doing brisk business. Alnetra Zaroe, 27, is collecting money from her father, who has been living in the US for eight years. On her monthly visits to the store in busy Benson Street, she collects $150 (£95), which once helped her pay for university tuition fees but now goes towards food and school costs for her extended family.

"It's a large family - cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews - so we have to spend the money wisely," says the businesswoman, who distributes the cash to relatives. "I help my dad care for the family." She says the family would struggle without the cash. "Instead of two meals a day, we'd just have one."

Pessre Carnaeh also receives money from her father in the US to help with university fees. Carnaeh, 29, attends a private university, where fees are higher than those of state institutions, but the courses are said to be better. She has to pay $250 a term, so the occasional $100 from her father, along with a part-time job, helps pay the bills. To put the fees into context, the average wage of a civil servant is $80 a month. "I would find it difficult without the money and would have to ask for help from elsewhere," she says.

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