By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Tech Project, a two-year entrepreneurship program funded by the French Embassy in Banjul to offer opportunities and facilitate innovation for young entrepreneurs, has partnered the UNDP to hold a day long meetup expo, job fair and career coaching event for Gambian start-ups and tech companies aimed at fostering innovation and digital transformation in the country.
The colourful event held in Brikama Saturday, brought together over 250 young entrepreneurs mainly from rural Gambia, exhibitors and stakeholders.
Characterised by expert panel discussions on digital awareness, digital transformation for businesses and access to finance and digital opportunities in the tech ecosystem of the Gambia, the expo also availed opportunities for the young businesses to exhibit their products, network among themselves and experts as well as and mentored on career development, job interviews and start-up pitching competitions among others.
The CEO of Smart Technologies Abubacarr Barry who is also the principal of Smart Institute of Technology inspired the young entrepreneurs on opportunities associated with the digital world and preached them that their success in digital technology behoves only hard work, dedication and robust training.
According to Mr Barry, soft-ware engineering and cyber security, which are projected to grow by 25 percent next year, are the most viable digital skills for upcoming entrepreneurs to explore and make instant strides in technology.
The founder of Innovator Spaces Mbadibba Jammeh-Cham whose company supports prospective young entrepreneurs in making suitable career decisions, stated that opportunities exist in Gambia’s tech ecosystem but young people mainly find it difficult to unlock them due to lack of information to target right people for their products and lack of digital awareness.
She expressed optimism that the event will better prepare the participating entrepreneurs especially from the rural areas to build projects around tech that will be profitable and sustainable in the market.
The coordinator of the Gambia Tech Project Boubacar D Coly, said the project developed a curriculum of 4 expo borders on career fair, innovation, raising awareness, and giving access to digital opportunities to young people in the rural areas.
“For this year the targeted areas are mainly Kiang, jokadu, Baobolong and Kunkiling. We expect that these young entrepreneurs will be able to implement whatever they will be taking from here to their business and to their communities to develop solutions. They will interact with other businesses in the Kombo’s and other people doing well in tech. They will inter-exchange, network and find bridges on how they can work together but also to build their understanding that possibilities exist in the country and they can achieve it through collaboration but the most important part is having access to information because if they don’t know what they can do or what are the opportunities out there, it would be very difficult for them to achieve things,” Mr Coly explained.
He hailed the UNDP for partnering with the Gambia Tech Project and Alliance Fracaise to support the project’s component on access to digital literacy and access to information and digital skills.
Other invited guests and experts at the event include Mr Sanusi Drammeh, a senior staff from the newly created Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, Essa Janko of BEPRO VISUALZ, Hassan Jallow of AssuTech and High-tech TV show host Maimuna Jabbie.