D1M Challenge Fund for women entrepreneurs: Winners announced

D1M Challenge Fund for women entrepreneurs: Winners announced

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Three women-owned ventures were today declared winners of the One Million Dalasi Challenge for Women Entrepreneurs during an award ceremony Thursday at the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) headquarters.

The Fund provides one million dalasis (around $19,102) seed capital to support and accelerate innovative and locally owned solutions offered by women entrepreneurs in The Gambia which address challenges amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Fund prioritises solutions for better market access, transportation and distribution, agro-processing and storage, and climate-smart growth. 

Following a rigorous evaluation process of 478 applications, the independent committee of experts selected:

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1.         Decachoka Entreprise – an agro-processing company aiming to reduce post-harvest losses

2.         Bendulaa Farm – a carbon-saving ecological organic vegetable box scheme based in the Upper River Region

3.         Amy CJ Exports/ AWEP – an exporter of agricultural products whose goal is to hire 100 micro farmers in 23 community gardens to boost the income of women smallholder farmers

Next to the one million dalasis in grant capital, the entrepreneurs will also benefit from mentorship and networking with successful business leaders to implement their business solutions across The Gambia.

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry champions this initiative with support by the International Trade Centre (ITC) through its European Union-funded Youth Empowerment Project and the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

Oumie Sise-Sallah, board member, GCCI, said: “It is my strong view that we must eradicate the    mechanisms that tolerate gender bias in business, especially as it relates to improving livelihoods and contributing to national and global economies. Whilst we work towards eliminating traditional gender norms that hamper the growth of women-owned or women-run businesses, initiatives such as this Women’s Challenge Fund will help enable the establishment and growth of sustainable livelihoods for women entrepreneurs and associations.”

The EU ambassador to The Gambia, Corrado Pampaloni, said the EU is committed to supporting The Gambia and her people to boost sustainable growth, create jobs and help adapt to the effects of climate change. “Gender equality lies at the heart of this process,” Mr Pampaloni said.

Fatou Mbenga- Jallow, project coordinator and senior technical adviser, Youth Empowerment Programme, (Yep) International Trade Centre, noted:” Economic empowerment of women is at the heart of the International Trade Centre’s work. ITC supports The Gambia’s agenda on empowerment of youth and women through policy advocacy, skills development, entrepreneurship, market access, access to finance, coaching and mentorship and connection to its global network.”

Mariyann Jabang, director of gender equality and women empowerment, MoWomen, Children, Social Welfare said: “Women’s effective participation in the entrepreneurship sector is often subverted by lack of financial resources which is why I highly appreciate this well thought out Challenge Fund for Women Entrepreneurs.”

 Background – About the Challenge

Launched on 5 October 2021, the Challenge Fund is open to all young Gambian entrepreneurs, social innovators, and non-governmental organisations. To achieve the 80 percent rural target, GCCI and the International Trade Centre, with support from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare (MoGCSW) and the Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce (GWCC), embarked on a week-long regional outreach in the Lower River Region, Central River Region, North Bank Region and Upper River Region with regional governors, women group leaders, and regional chapters of business support organisations.