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  1. Background/Rationale 

AFFORD (UK and SL), joint partners, were commissioned to undertake an ‘Enterprise Development in Africa’ project, in the context of Sierra Leone. The Comic Relief funded AFFORD Business Centre (ABC) is a social enterprise supporting fast-growth SMEs in Sierra Leone that are likely to create jobs. The 3 year project has been granted a no cost extension of 2 years and has entered its 4th year. It is scheduled to be completed in September 2016. Despite the significant gains that have been made by ABC, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak that struck Sierra Leone in May 2014, as well leading to the tragic death of thousands, has also had a devastating impact on  the economy. This  in turn has adversely affected the majority of businesses, which mainly consists of SMEs. As the lifeblood of the Sierra Leonean economy, the negative impact on SMEs has had far-reaching repercussions. Subsequent public health interventions implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone to contain the outbreak, further impacted the ability of ABC to deliver its core activities of business development support training and the promotion of enterprise via outreach to large cohorts of students. The current situation has also had an adverse effect on potential diaspora and other investors.

 The World Bank predicts negative growth of -2% for the country in 2015. There are current information gaps as to the extent of the impact of EVD on business in Sierra Leone, of which SMEs make up the biggest proportion of economic activity.

 ABC’s research study will assess how businesses have been impacted, especially among its key target beneficiary group of SMEs. Data collected will inform how the ABC project can tailor its activities to provide additional support to businesses in order to build resilience and increase preparedness to withstand the current challenges and as part of the Ebola recovery effort. The data will also provide empirical evidence for development actors, NGOs, governmental agencies and the private sector. Finally, the research will consider the impact of EVD on diaspora and other investors, principally from the UK. 

In order to provide an improved understanding of the challenges affecting the business landscape, the proposed research study will build on existing relevant knowledge. The study will comprise blending evidence from quantitative and qualitative elements, public records and findings from external related research and consultation with key stakeholders and experts. This will capture case studies on beneficiaries, from SMEs, and other key sectors that play a significant role in driving the economy, such as agri-business, retail traders, tourism, catering businesses, transport and professional service business.  

The research study will be in two parts: 

  1. Impact of EVD on SMEs, market traders and key business sectors in Sierra Leone
  2. Impact of EVD on diaspora investors and other  UK-based businesses operating in Sierra Leone

 Both arms of the study will be carried out in parallel, with research leads in each country.

  1. Key objectives:


    1. To produce a comprehensive report assessing the impact of the Ebola crisis on SMEs in various sectors including agri-business, market traders, supply chain for large businesses in the mining sector, tourism & hospitality, transport, health sectors, etc in the four regional headquarter towns across Sierra Leone.
    2. To assess the impact of EVD crisis on UK diaspora and other investors in Sierra Leone.
    3. To make recommendations, linked to findings, for policymakers and development actors so that they may develop policies that address the impact of EVD on businesses in the short and long term
    4. To make recommendations, linked to findings, to inform activities within the ABC project that are more aligned to building business resilience, stimulating business activity, protecting and sustaining jobs for SMEs and other industries that have been adversely affected by Ebola.

3.     Who to contact for more information,


If you would like to be involved or wish to find out more information about this planned study, please contact:


AFFORD Business Centre (ABC) Sierra Leone

David Bathalomew


AFFORD Business Centre (ABC) United Kingdom

Unisa Dizo-Conteh

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