Gambian Women

Empowering Gambian Women: Success Stories Fueled by $300,000 in Business Grants

Eighteen Gambian women entrepreneurs are proving that ambition and the right support can unlock incredible potential. These inspiring individuals recently received a total of US $300,000 in business grants, and within just three months, they’ve already begun transforming their companies.

This initiative, spearheaded by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), goes beyond simply providing financial aid. The program offers a comprehensive approach to empowering women-led businesses. It equips them with the tools they need to thrive in today’s competitive landscape through:

  • Business Coaching: Expert guidance helps refine strategies, navigate challenges, and maximize growth potential.
  • Digital and Financial Literacy Courses: Gaining a strong foundation in these crucial areas empowers informed decision-making and financial management.
  • E-payment Systems and E-commerce Platform Integration: This opens doors to new markets and streamlines customer interactions, expanding reach and revenue opportunities.

The impact of this program is undeniable. Isatou Njie, CEO of Gambricks, a brick-making company, exemplifies this success. Njie utilized the grant to invest in new machinery, resulting in a remarkable 25% increase in production. This translates to a stronger business, increased profitability, and the potential to create new jobs.

But Njie’s story is just one among many. Here are some other inspiring examples:

  • K Creations: This clothing manufacturer made a significant shift towards sustainability by converting entirely to solar power. This not only reduces their environmental footprint but also translates to significant cost savings.
  • Yaxare: This herbal tea producer, alongside fashion designer Dignified, have also embraced solar power, running 70% of their operations on renewable energy. This translates to impressive monthly savings of GMD16,000 on electricity costs, allowing them to reinvest in growth initiatives.

These transformations are a testament to the power of the Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) programme, a collaboration between ITC and UNCDF. This initiative provides a multi-faceted approach to economic support, encompassing access to finance, high-quality business development services, and essential digital and financial literacy training.

The grant selection and disbursement process employed by JSF fosters a collaborative environment within The Gambia’s entrepreneurial and business development landscape. Representatives from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, the Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency, and the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce all played a vital role in ensuring the program’s effectiveness.

“The MSME grant financing and its operational mechanism was a game-changer for our women entrepreneurs,” said Kemo, a representative from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment. “It enabled them to upgrade productive machines, expand business operations, and launch new product lines.” Kemo further expressed gratitude to the JSF program and the EU for their support, highlighting the program’s inspiring impact and its potential to serve as a model for future initiatives aimed at empowering other micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Yusupha Keita, technical advisor and coordinator for the JSF program, emphasized the program’s commitment to collaborative and innovative approaches specifically geared towards empowering women and youth economically. “At ITC we are committed to go the last mile,” stated Keita. “This has been demonstrated in the support to women-owned businesses, but also in other socioeconomic support programmes to ensure a positive impact.”

The success stories emerging from this program are a powerful testament to the transformative potential of targeted support for women-led businesses. By providing essential resources, fostering collaboration, and empowering women with the knowledge and tools they need, initiatives like the JSF program are paving the way for a more vibrant and inclusive Gambian economy.

Original Source: The Standard