By Adama Tine
The National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) with support from the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Youth and Sports on Tuesday disbursed a sum of 6.6 million dalasi support to youth and women entrepreneurs at the NaNA conference hall.
Forty youth, comprising male and female entrepreneurs benefitted D50, 000 each as a grant and loan, while 11 youth entrepreneurs from Social Development Fund (SDF) got from D200,000 to D500, 000.
The event, presided over by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie, forms part of NEDI’s effort to support youth entrepreneurs and enterprise development of young people in the country.
The grants and loans provided will be supporting youth businesses in various trade areas of the economy, namely: fishing, aquaculture, agriculture, horticulture, food processing, welding and fabrication, solar and satellite installation, poultry production, sheep fattening, animal rearing, tailoring and fashion, mini-markets, restaurant, hair dressing and general merchandise businesses.
The 51-beneficiaries included youth entrepreneurs from Upper River, Central River, North Bank, Lower River and West Coast Regions as well as Kanifing Municipality and Banjul.
Addressing the gathering, Minister Badjie applauded the efforts of the Government for providing youth entrepreneurs access to finance, while adding that the youth entrepreneurship fund is a component of the Youth and Sports Development Levy that is earmarked to support youth with viable business ideas to develop their business.
The youth minister indicated that to ensure that the impact of the fund is sustainable for the continued implementation of the programme, SDF has been identified to manage the Youth Revolving Loan Scheme with their experience in managing similar interventions and NEDI to implement the training, mentorship, coaching, and provision of mini-grants for the youth.
Minister Badjie noted that the youth revolving fund scheme is an initiative of the Government of The Gambia managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to provide access to affordable financial services, promote the growth of youth-led enterprises and create employment opportunities for youth and women entrepreneurs
Mrs. Juldeh Ceesay, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs expressed her ministry’s strong collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the implementation of the project to provide grants and loans for Gambian youth to engage in the creation of employment opportunities through youth enterprise development.
Kajally Sonko, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare said the government is committed to providing funding for youth and women entrepreneurs, citing the recently created Women Enterprise Fund, which he said would complement the youth enterprise fund.
Alagie Jarju, Executive Director of the National Youth Council, representing the Grant Review and Approval Committee of the youth business grant, urged beneficiaries to utilise the grants for their businesses so that they can grow their business and create more opportunities for other youth.
“The Government of The Gambia has fulfilled one of the requests of the youth on access to finance to engage in businesses, so it is now the responsibility of the beneficiaries to manage the grants well,” he said.