Gambia-Tech project, UNDP hold second edition of youth entrepreneurship expo, career fair

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By Tabora Bojang

Gambia Tech Project funded by the UNDP to provide visibility and business development opportunities to young entrepreneurs, hold its second edition of the Global Innovation meet-up, job and career fair expo in Jokadu bringing together local entrepreneurs, business owners, students and start-ups, to exhibit their products and services as well as network and learn from experts to make advances in their businesses and entrepreneurship ideas.

Over 250 entrepreneurs from different sectors ranging from the ICT sector, agriculture, fashion and education took part in the expo held at the Kunta Kinteh Camp in Albreda adjacent to Juffereh the birthplace of Kunta Kinteh. 

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The event availed room for interactive and vivid discussions between the participants, youth leaders and experts in the tech sector who inspire, mentor and coach the young entrepreneurs on pitching, access to information and digital awareness, digital literacy, access to markets, finance and finding the right digital tools to yield better profits among other entrepreneurship development skills.

Menggeh Lowe, an entrepreneur who is also the enterprise support manager at GIEPA and secretary to the IT Association of the Gambia was among the experts.

Other coaches and mentors joining her are; Madeline LLeleji Business Development Manager Jokko labs Banjul, Sulayman Darboe innovator of Green Waste Initiative, Basiru Gaye of National Youth Council and Youth connect, Maimuna Jabbi High-Tech TV hosts, Omar Baldeh the founder of Chopser, and the proprietor of Leilam Afrik Tours respectively.

Gambia Tech project manager Baboucar D Coly, reiterated the critical need for youths especially those in the rural areas to be empowered in the tech sector, noting that many of them are capable of achieving a lot in the fast-growing ICT sector if given the right support.

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“The project targets two thousand young people from 56 communities. We want to help them thrive in their businesses and ensure they are digitally aware and have access to information regarding technology,” he added.

Coly said even though a lot of rural youths are doing good start ups, they are mostly stuck due to lack of right information and environment.

“This event will avail them opportunities to meet other young people and exchange information and hear from experts about their experiences, success stories and risks. The main concept is to help them showcase whatever business they want to do.”

He hailed the UNDP for the support and partnership. 

The proprietor of Green Waste Initiative, Sulayman Darboe encouraged the young entrepreneurs to be daring and remain resolute in their endeavours, reminding them that they have every potential to become successful entrepreneurs and address the many problems facing their communities and the country at large through technology.

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However, he urged them to shun negative socio-cultural sentiments that impede start-ups.

Menggeh Lowe of ITAG said technology is integral in all aspects of development across all sectors, urging the young entrepreneurs to effectively utilise personal gadgets like their mobile phones to tap into digital opportunities available to them.

“Find a good network. Find a group of mentors that you can learn from, research, learn and be willing to fail, you will surely make it.”

Madam Lowe reiterated ITAG’s strive to bridge gaps in the tech ecosystem in terms of skills, access to finance, capacity building initiatives and policy advocacy.

She called for a review policy to enable a more conducive environment for businesses to flourish as well as a review of the ICT curriculum of the university, arguing that there is a gap between it and the ICT job market.

“This is why ITAG is doing a pilot program to create a junior developer’s course to help young graduates to learn skills that are ready and needed in the tech market,” Lowe told The Standard in an interview.

Young entrepreneur and participant Momodou Salieu Jallow expressed his pleasure to be associated with the expo, calling it an opener that will enable him take his business to the right direction.

He however called on the government to address the erratic electricity and high cost of data which he believes are seriously impeding the growth of young entrepreneurs in the tech sector.