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Sunday, May 19, 2024
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$300,000 in business grants awarded to 18 women

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Eighteen women have been awarded a total of US $300,000 in small business grants. Within three months, they have already invested in new equipment, expanded operations, and created jobs.

As part of the programme, run by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the entrepreneurs received business coaching as well as digital and financial literacy courses. They were also set up to use e-payment systems and the Afrijula e-commerce platform. This allows them to manage their finances while strengthening their outreach and customer base.

“The MSME grant financing not only provided us with financial assistance but also opened doors to networking opportunities, digitization, and strengthening of capacities. It has been a holistic support system that has empowered us to thrive in the competitive business,” said Isatou Njie, CEO of Gambricks.

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Her business used the grant to invest in new machinery that’s increased production of bricks by 25%. Among the other successes, clothing maker K Creations converted completely to solar power. Herbal tea producer Yaxare and fashion designer Dignified now run 70% of their machines on solar, saving GMD16,000 a month on electricity costs.

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The grants were made through the Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) programme, a collaboration between ITC and UNCDF. The partnership facilitates comprehensive economic support through access to finance; quality and relevant business development services; and digital and financial literacy.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment , the grant committee included representatives from Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce,

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Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency)

GYCC, Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce,

Kemo, a representative of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, said: “The MSME grant financing and its operational mechanism was a game-changer for our women entrepreneurs. It enabled them to upgrade productive machines, expand business operations, and launch new product lines. We are grateful to the JSF program and EU for the support, which has inspired us to provide similar structured support to other MSMEs.”

The JSF model employed in the selection and disbursement of grants proved very effective, fostering strong collaboration in the entrepreneurship and business development spaces.

“We focus on collaborative and innovative approaches to youth and women economic empowerment,” Yusupha Keita, technical advisor and coordinator for the JSF programme. “At ITC we are committed go to the last mile. This has been demonstrated in the support to women-owned businesses, but also in other socioeconomic support programmes to ensure a positive impact.”

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