PROSPER Trainer’s Manual: Developing Smallholder Agribusinesses and Community Forest Enterprises in Liberia

The USAID/Liberia People, Rules, and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystems Resources (PROSPER) Project has been working in Liberia since June 2012 to support community management of forest resources for local self-governance and enterprise development. One of the project’s specific objectives has been to enhance community-based livelihoods derived from sustainable forest-based and agriculture-based enterprises. This manual has been developed to address the need for a practical guide that can help government agencies and nongovernmental institutions assist local entrepreneurs in building strong and viable forest- or agricultural-based small enterprises.

This manual is based on a similar one developed by Tetra Tech partner ACDI/VOCA for the USAID-funded Southern Sudan Agricultural Market and Enterprise Development (AMED) Program and draws on ACDI/VOCA’s extensive experience developing business training for rural producers. ACDI/VOCA believes that prospective entrepreneurs should themselves undertake feasibility studies to identify and properly develop successful enterprises. The training methodology thus emphasizes the need for participants to think of their farming activities as a business, and to succeed they must explore and understand the requirements for creating successful agribusiness enterprises and community forest-based enterprise start-ups. In this way they will be better able to generate income, provide productive employment, and enhance food production by focusing more clearly on selling their produce to markets in addition to producing for domestic use.


This manual is designed for the staff of government agencies and nongovernmental organizations involved in supporting the development of new enterprises. Trainers of these institutions can use this manual as the basis of workshops and training sessions to sensitize, inform, and educate would-be entrepreneurs in the basic steps of identifying small business opportunities, and to provide them with skills to start or improve a business.

This manual has been designed for workshop settings with groups of up to 15 persons. To facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration, trainees should share similar status and goals. We suggest that participants have comparable incomes, ages, and occupations. Single gender groups and groups that plan to market the same products are likely to be more effective.

The manual includes ten modules that can be administered in four consecutive days. To not overburden the participants, trainers should present a maximum of three modules per day and an introduction or recap of the issues of the previous day. The modules vary in difficulty. Trainers should review and adapt them to the experience and education level of their participants.

This manual requires minimal materials—in most cases, only flipcharts, magic markers, and masking tape. Notebooks should be distributed to participants if they are able to use them. However, to implement this training successfully, trainers will first need to gather information concerning local markets and enterprises—described below. They will also need to prepare a number of flipcharts and handouts.