OFFICIAL OPENING OF SAM’s BARBEQUE: March 13th, 2012.
Your Excellency Joseph N. Boakai
Hon Mills Jones
Hon Natty B. Davis
Other government officials, members of the legislature, members of the business community
All other protocol observered
Today marks a historic moment in the life of the Mitchell’s family with the official opening of Sam’s Barbeque bar & restaurant. This restaurant is part of a larger hotel complex, when completed will be the second largest building on the Boulevard with ten floors, 125 bedrooms and two elevators, constructed on family property, when many other properties on the Boulevard is being lease out due to lack of funds to develop them.
What is also significant about this project is that, it is 100 percent Liberian ownership, 100 percent Liberian funded and 100 percent Liberian constructed.
The strategic business plan is to complete the first four floors by the end of this year, which will give us 34 bedrooms,3 restaurants and 3 conference halls, also, allowing us to demolish the old conference hall to provide badly needed additional parking space.
Constructing a building of this magnitude has not been easy and when it is completed we will write our book to inspire other Liberians that they too can reach for the skies, with hard work, honesty, perseverance and determination.
Accepting inadequate short term financing to complete a long term project has been almost suicidal, but this is all that is available is on the market, but we decided to accept it, knowing very well that it would be very challenging for us .We have had to repay the loan, while continuing the construction and import materials from China, all at the same time, in order to keep the project going and we were only able to achieve this with very careful manipulation of our cash-flow .
We are indeed grateful to the International Bank who provided us with temporary funding at critical moments in the project and then later on, they collaborated with Central Bank in their stimulus package for Liberian businesses, making loans available only to Liberian businesses at eight percent and repayment over 30months. We thank the Central Bank Governor Mills Jones and his institution; it could not have come at a better time.
In order to continue with the project to complete the first four floors we will need additional funding on friendly terms with repayment between 3 to 5 years. This will provide the necessary cash-flow to complete the remaining six floors at our own pace. It will be slow, completing the remaining floors from cash-flow but the advantage is that the work will proceed with the pace of the economy, if the economy takes up and run, and then we will run with it, if it slows down, then we slow down. We don’t want to over-extend ourselves, taking more loans than we need; after all we have more than enough to live on, why rush.
We would also like to give thanks to our foreign partners in progress, who have given us suppliers credit, even up to 60 days in some cases, they are Eagle Electrical, Razzouk Brothers, Sethi Brothers, Beever Company, U. N. Drive Supermarket, Exclusive Supermarket and Liberian suppliers; Monrovia Petroleum, Lib-Afric Associates, Joy International, Fortress Cement, and Nas Interglobal. Supplier’s credit in any business is very important, because in our case it is interest free and unsecured and the suppliers will always continue to credit us as long as we pay back.
We extend our thanks and appreciation to all the workers, especially to Mr Wilmot Harris and his crew, the plumber Friday, the electricians Salifu & David, Jerry and all the Corina Hotel staff who have played their role.
We must appreciate the Unity Party government for creating the conducive enabling environment for doing business and as I stand here today I can tell you that I have achieved more in business in the last six years than I have done in the rest of my life.
Unto whom much is given much is expected and no government in the history of Liberia has received as much foreign support as this government, that is why we will continue to remind the Unity Party that they still need to do more for Liberian businesses.
President Sirleaf have stated on numerous occasions that the indigenous private sector is the engine of growth, and I believe that you Vice-President Boakai have also iterated those same sentiments and she have even gone further and stated that she wants to create some Liberian millionaires during her tenure, I am therefore kindly asking you Vice-President Boakai to please tell President Sirleaf that I want to be one of those millionaires, but I want to become one now and not when I am dead, therefore we asking her to please increase her support to Liberian Businesses.
I did a survey last year on high rise construction on or within the vicinity of Tubman Boulevard and I discovered that out of 39 construction projects going on only 3, one of which is Corina Hotel were owned by Liberians, but interesting enough, all the land for these projects are owned by Liberians. This is very disturbing to me, why can’t Liberians develop their properties, the whole ownership of buildings on the Boulevard have changed dramatically, such that the new owners have names like, Eid, Hassan, Igbal, Ossama, Khadifi, Gassam, Jetty, Sethi , Sheiny, Musthapha, and so on, there is no Yarkparwolo, no Keita, no Tuzama, no Tamba etc.
If we are to reverse this trend, we must investigate and put into place policies that will allow Liberians to take part in the development of their country, otherwise it is likely that benefits from the oil discovery will likely go the same way.
With God’s help this project will succeed, even if it takes ten years, a ten story building on the Boulevard, 100 percent Liberian ownership, 100 percent Liberian funded and 100 percent Liberian constructed.
I Thank You.
Sam Mitchell, CEO