The 12th Libya Build International Exhibition opened at the Tripoli International Fairgrounds Monday with 215 exhibitors – 120 of which were Libyan companies and 95 were international exhibitors. The international companies included the Libyan American Gypsum company co-owned by U.S. citizen, Debbie Hirst. Hirst is also head of AmCham Libya.
On the opening day of Libya Build 2022, Libya Herald visited Hirst at her Libyan American Gypsum company stand at the show and asked her about working in Libya.
Libya Herald: What is it about the Libyan market that makes it worthwhile to invest in?
‘‘The potential of the Libyan market is huge. Everyone knows that. There are a lot of risks, and it’s very difficult to do business here, but if you understand the risks, and actively implement measures to mitigate those risks, it’s possible to have success.
This is not an environment where you can expect quick results. Everything takes longer than you expect and costs more than you planned for. However, the rewards for success are high, so if you have the risk appetite, it makes sense.’’
Libya Herald: Do you see a positive future for Libya?
‘‘I wouldn’t still be here and investing my own funds if I didn’t believe that Libya will continue to improve. I have been living in Libya since 2013 so I’ve been here through some challenging times. A positive future is not guaranteed, but I believe it’s more likely than not.
The problems are quite complex, and I think the best we can hope for is incremental positive change, but it’s absolutely possible. Even individual acts can be impactful. If enough people are doing positive things and supporting development, I believe that things will slowly start to normalize.
Libya Herald: Why did you choose to invest in the gypsum sector?
‘‘Libya has world-class gypsum reserves, but they have not been widely developed. There are a few plaster mills, but there was no production of more value-added products. There is a huge potential demand for these products, and there is no reason that they can’t be produced in Libya. That is what attracted me to the sector and what continues to attract me to the sector.’’
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