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GCCI, partners launch intellectual property project

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By Olimatou Coker

The World Intellectual Property Organization in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice together with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Tuesday launched the IP+ Accelerator Program for women in SMEs.

The program focuses on the use of Intellectual Property (IP) in strengthening the competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises in The Gambia.

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The program is supporting 50 SMEs in The Gambia. These SMEs are undergoing training and mentorship to acquire knowledge on key processes, which include IP tools, and support needed in acquiring IP rights and making effective use of IP tools for business purposes.

Upon the request of the government, WIPO organized a national workshop in September 2023, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, the focus was on strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in The Gambia through the use of Intellectual Property (IP). This workshop was a stepping stone towards the goal of empowering SMEs and enhancing their competitiveness.

Following the workshop, fruitful discussions were held with the Gambian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) about mentoring and upscaling the businesses of SMEs in The Gambia. Initially, the plan was to train 20 SMEs, but due to the success of the workshop and the interest shown by national institutions, this number was extended to 50 SMEs, including both young men and women.

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Speaking, Loretta Asiedu, Acting Director of WIPO’s Division for Africa, said mentees are now being equipped with knowledge on key processes, IP tools, and the support needed in acquiring IP rights and making effective use of IP tools for business purposes.

“The successful implementation of this project will not only advance your participation in the global IP ecosystem but also broaden your knowledge, providing you with the opportunity to capitalize on IP tools to gain competitive business advantage in local and global markets”.

Hussein Thomasi, Solicitor General and Legal Secretary, thanked WIPO and GCCI for cooperating with the Ministry of Justice to support and mentor the SMEs on the use of intellectual property to boost their businesses.

He noted that Intellectual Property can be a valuable asset that will set SMEs apart from their competitors and help them thrive in the marketplace.

Prof. Muhammad Kah, Ambassador, Permanent Representative The Gambia to the United Nations Office in Geneva, highlighted that this Project comes at a particularly crucial time for The Gambia as it aspires to propel growth with an emphasis on STEM; launched newest National Development Plan named ‘Yeriwa”, turning the country’s demographic boom into a demographic dividend, reducing unemployment rates – especially among the young, and tapping into the phenomenon of return migration.

“In today`s competitive and dynamic global business environment, it is not enough to be just creative and innovative, rather businesses need to understand the value of their creation, how to market it, and how to build a portfolio of IP rights to protect it in a way that helps generate revenue and wealth”.

Hasan Kleib, WIPO Deputy Director General, Regional and National Development Sector (RNDS). He highlighted the significance of the project and its potential impact on the SMEs in The Gambia.

Kleib underscored the importance of SMEs, which form an essential component of the national economy and provide a crucial source of employment for youth. “With around 55% of The Gambia’s population under the age of 25, and more than 40% of SMEs in The Gambia being youth-owned, empowering SMEs is a strategic move towards sustainable development and innovation in The Gambia”.

David Jeng, GCCI Board Director and Lead Consultant,  gave an overview of the project and said what is expected of the SMEs whilst underscoring the need to gain Intellectual Property Protection to grow their business globally and harness the opportunities of the AFCFTA.

He also  challenged the SMEs to use the IP and great success stories for their business whilst undergoing the program.

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