A street vendor sells Liberian flags near an Ebola isolation ward on August 15, 2014 in the country's capital of Monrovia.

Story highlights

46% of Liberians working at the start of the Ebola crisis are now unemployed

Liberia has had over 7,000 cases of Ebola and nearly 3,000 deaths

Businesses have been forced to close because of the outbreak

Hotel occupancy rates are down 85% as airlines avoid the region

CNN  — 

The deadly Ebola virus which has ripped through three West African countries has had the biggest impact in Liberia. As of last week, the country has had over 7,000 cases of the disease and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Earlier this month, a World Bank report said that “nearly half of the working population of Liberia is no longer working since the crisis began.” The World Bank, which conducted two rounds of mobile-phone surveys, also said that over 30% of working households were self-employed before the crisis – but this is now down to just above 10%.

Such a reduction in employment is being coupled with what the World Food Programme calls “abnormally high” rice prices in certain places due to quarantine measures.

As the economic impact of the virus deepens, CNN’s African Start-Up reached out to workers, entrepreneurs and business people in Liberia to find out how they’re dealing with the crisis. Here’s what they had to say.

Harris Kollie - “Pen-pen” motobike-taxi driver

Harris Kollie (pictured on his motorbike) has been driving customers around Monrovia since 2005.

“People don’t want to ride with us … because they are afraid of the transmission of the disease. Many customers are students, but now the schools are closed already. There’s no jobs, so as a result there is a reduction in customers.

“Before the outbreak we used to transport 30-40 people a day. Now, because of the closure of schools and businesses, we might transport 20 people in a day.

“Feeding the family now is quite challenging of course. The price of rice goes up, it’s not easy to find it – 25kg of rice is $20 now, but before rice was $14.”

Peter Swen Jr - Surfing teacher

Peter Swen Jr (pictured) was one of the local surfers to take part in the 2013 Liberian National Surfing Championships.

“People used to come hang out on the beach and rent surf boards from me and have surf lesson[s], but not any more.

“On the weekend [it] used to be about 15 to 20 people. I pray Ebola be eradicate[d] soon.”

Fomba Trawally - owner of National Toiletries Incorporated


“[The Ebola outbreak] forced us to reduce our workforce and subsequently our production. Our local sales dropped considerably because movement was restricted as a measure to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus … Border closure with neighboring countries also affected our business as some of our raw materials and finished products were imported from these neighboring countries like Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea.

“As an individual, it placed me in a state of confusion. I did not know how and who to downsize among my small staff. It made me reduce the time I spent with my family and spent more time thinking about how to keep my business running and operational … It will go a long way to restore normality for me and my family.”