Saran: I truly believe that the private sector is the best possible option for sustainable social and economic change in Liberia and Africa in general. The private sector is essential to provide people with better lives. To that effect, I recently launched the Monrovia-based company, Empire Group, to create businesses in the areas of agriculture, mining, and transportation. And we are excited to expand into other African nations in the future!
W4A: Although from Monrovia, Liberia, from age 8 you have travelled to and lived in quite a few countries. Would you say that your experiences from living in these other countries have contributed to make you the person you are today?
Saran: Absolutely! I left Liberia when I was 8 years old as a result of the country’s civil war, and spent my formative years living in the Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, France and Cyprus before I came to the United States to attend college. The exposure from all the traveling and moving around gave me a global perspective and shaped me into who I am today. I always knew from an early age that I wanted to do work that would help the global population, and this was reinforced even more so as I moved around and became exposed to different peoples and cultures.
W4A: We know that you founded ‘FACE Africa’ which is a non-profit organisation that provides access to clean drinking water in rural communities in Liberia. After Liberia where next as we know clean water is a problem in many parts of Africa?
Saran: I figure we can have the greatest impact by focusing on one country at a time and selected to focus on Liberia – not just because it’s my home country but mainly because it’s a country with enormous needs and investment potential. Liberia is building from 14 years of civil war which left the infrastructure severely damaged including major water points and water system. However, Liberia possesses numerous opportunities for investments in the area of agriculture, mining, energy and tourism. Throughout the nation is fertile agricultural land, much of it virgin, and the deal soil for growing palm, coconut, coffee plantain, yam and cassava. Mineral resources such as gold and diamonds are bountiful; crude oil and iron ore discoveries make for an enormous potential for investment at various entry points. The scenic beauty of Liberia- from its coastal regions, plains and rich culture adds to enormous value for tourism.
That said, this Fall FACE Africa is launching a new initiative, our County by County (CbC) Commitment. With CbC we have an ambitious yet simple goal: clean and safe drinking water and sanitation for every single Liberian, one County at a time, through partnerships and strategic implementation. Once we have made a significant impact in Liberia, we will direct our focus to other post-conflict countries in Africa.
W4A: How have you dealt with obstacles and challenges that you have encountered along your journey?
Saran: Faith, perseverance and the belief that this work is my calling. I truly believe that every person on this planet- big, small; rich or poor, has an implicit reason for being here. This isn’t about whether or not you believe in a higher or supernatural power, but about believing that your being has purpose. Every person has at least one gift that helps mold society in some way, shape, or form. It is whether or not we choose to use those gifts that determine our impact on the world. Water and sanitation has become my purpose and my mission, and I work hard every single day to ensure that I accomplish my mission. It is hard, challenging work but the end result is priceless.
W4A: We also know you do‘Women Empowerment’, why is it important for to you that women be empowered?
Saran: I truly believe in the power of women. As nurturers, we have a unique ability to care and share and make the world a better place. When you empower women, you change the world! I can use myself as a good example of this (smiles).
W4A: Who or what inspires you?
Saran: Africa… and the potential it offers!
W4A: Finally, tell us one thing you love about Africa?
Saran: Our optimism!
Thank you for granting W4A this interview.