He started his first business venture as a street vendor with capital of just $200, but two decades later Fomba Trawally has become one of Liberia’s most prominent entrepreneurs.

Like many in his country, Trawally fled Liberia in 1989 to escape the country’s bloody civil war. He found refuge in The Gambia but in December 1991, Trawally decided it was time to return to his native country.

Once back in the capital Monrovia, the former refugee quickly realized he could capitalize on a need for one product: rubber slippers (flip-flops.)

That initial investment in rubber slippers made quick returns.

Trawally’s business grew steadily and by 2005, the self-made entrepreneur owned three retail stores selling items such as paper products and cosmetics imported from all over the world.

With an entrepreneurial spirit, Trawally next set his sights on making the transition from being an importer to becoming a manufacturer.

Thus, in 2010 he launched National Toiletries Incorporated, Liberia’s first paper and toiletry product manufacturing company.

According to him:

“I figured out that Liberia’s population is about four million,” he says. “Out of the four million, no one is producing paper — everybody is going out to bring the paper to import. Even if two million people buy from me by day, I feel that it’s something that will grow the economy of this country.”

His factory is now fully operational and currently produces four different kinds of products: baby diapers, paper towels, napkins and toilet paper.

With sales having so far reached more than $600,000, Trawally says his plans are to double the factory’s capacity soon.

Amazing, isn’t it?

Trawally’s inspiring success story just shows how powerful it can be to dream big, but start small.

Watch the video, and stay inspired!