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City of Banjul
Friday, November 27, 2020

Entrepreneurship and Gambia’s development

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However, for some time now, our policymakers and researchers have recognised entrepreneurship as a critical driver of economic development through fostering growth, job creation, technology adoption and innovation as well as poverty alleviation. Their growing recognition of the sector as a potential contributor to development has now given way to the need for the government to place greater emphasis on it. 

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Meanwhile, private sector players such as the American Chamber of Commerce have expressed their determination to shape a consensus that greater focus on entrepreneurship should spur greater growth. At a recent business seminar, Abdoulie Baks Touray while exposing Gambian entrepreneurs to Nigerian billionaire investor Tony Elumelu’s 100 million dollars pledge to support entrepreneurs across Africa, said our collective growth as a nation will be based on the sector. He submitted: “We are trying to train students on entrepreneurship and other specialised areas because we don’t want students to graduate and start looking for jobs, but rather we want them to come out and start creating jobs.”  

Undoubtedly, given the importance of Small and Medium-sized Entrepreneurs and productive entrepreneurship for development and the facilitating role that the government can play, it is crucial to identify the factors that most serve as obstacles for its development. At the same time it needs to be acknowledged that the relationship between entrepreneurship and development is complex, and further research is needed on links between entrepreneurship, institutions, and development. 

It is true to mention that most countries in Africa including The Gambia are now turning their attention to the creation of more entrepreneurs through various programmes. But while credit constraints, business environment including taxation and infrastructure bottlenecks have dominated the discussion, skill shortages (both on the side of workers and entrepreneurs) have received less attention. Still, the evidence points to the lack of skills as an important additional constraint to starting new firms in The Gambia.

On the surface, this challenge is for those in government because they are entrusted to take charge of the country’s affairs. We think it is also for those individuals whose contributions illustrate optimism in our collective effort for development as a country.  Other direct and indirect ways to strengthen the business learning, information and advice processes among Gambian entrepreneurs is equally significant.

As we march into the future, the vision for our development as a nation will be well-documented. Our government needs to speed up structural transformation in order to take the large chunk of our population out of poverty. This requires deeper investment in factors leading to growth-enhancing structural change. There is a need for a paradigm shift and entrepreneurship should now be seen as the new route to pull our youth out of joblessness and its attendant consequences. More concentration needs to be placed on diversification and the new sources of economic growth.  Opportunities have to be also created for more inclusiveness. 

But while the government strives towards ensuring a conducive business environment and enforcing flexible local policies that promote entrepreneurship, the private sector should take a more proactive role in addressing the structural challenges to enhancing business services and providing opportunities for innovation and competition.  

Therefore, in addition to policies intended to overcome constraints to enterprise development and its skill bottlenecks in the country, other labour market policies, especially information exchange between available jobs and searching workers could play a positive role. The points are undisputable that our nation’s economy is in dire challenges and needs diversification.

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