The SIZ Program (Social Impact Zone) was developed to address the social and economic development obstacles born out of the civil conflict and Ebola epidemic in Liberia. It is designed to stimulate social and economic change, extending the impact of private sector activity, capturing the spill-over benefits from FDI, and generating impact beyond the gates of the zone itself. Developed as part of a joint project between the LBBF and SPARK, the SIZ adapts a post-conflict Social Enterprise framework in an independently managed SEZ (Special Economic Zone) in Monrovia. The SIZ will operate with a focus on delivering impact though the activities that occur within its compound and in the direct surroundings. On a second level, the zone is focused on extended impact as far as possible along value chains, further into the country and the domestic economy, including the smaller and marginalized stakeholders.
While in Monrovia in 2015, the SPcitI and SPARK teams met one on one with a wide range of stakeholders. The conducted mission marked the initial step in forming a multi-stakeholder platform for the SIZ. Participants were to be guided to formulate “collective ambitions and conditions” and a list of “first concrete steps” for implementation. These results will eventually be processed into a Development Strategy: an innovative kind of Masterplan that is based on a more integral – and thus resilient – approach than conventional urban planning. The Development Strategy for the Monrovia SIZ thus will be based on local understanding of the area itself, as well as all other scales involved. Six success factors have been determined as leading to great impact: energy provision, internet connection, transport and logistics, a one-stop-shop for business establishment and regulatory procedures, public space and shared infrastructure, and public-private partnerships.
The first SIZ is still under development by SPARK Liberia. This SIZ is a pilot not only for future of Social Impact Zones and policy reform in Liberia but, due to local adaptation, it can be applied to other cities and ports in the world facing similar challenges.
Client: LBBF and Spark
Location: Monrovia, Liberia
Role: Strategic Urban Planner at The Spontaneous City International (SPcitI)