By Olimatou Coker
The GIZ ECOWAS in partnership with the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of the Gambia Wednesday gave out startup kits to over 60 artisanal local fish processors in Gunjur and Sanyang.
The startup kits included improved sun dying racks, wheelbarrows for transporting fish, pots and pans for cleaning and preparation, and PPE.
The startup kit disbursement event is a key component of the Micro Enterprise Startup Support Initiative (MESSI) and part of the GIZ ECOWAS micro finance area of intervention. MESSI is a minigrant scheme that provides small equipment and appliances to assist eligible beneficiaries mitigate some of the barriers that inhibit starting or growing a small business in the poultry, horticulture, and fishery sectors by applying the value chain approach.
Equipment and appliances supplied also promote value addition and contribute to improvements in technology, climate change resilience, food safety and hygiene and nutrition security. The support initiative also contributes to promoting gender equality and social cohesion.
The goal of the project he to prepare youth, women and returning migrants for a better future by improving income and working conditions in the Gambia. It is implemented in Greater Banjul Area, Lower River Region and Upper River Region.
ECOWAS FRSD implemented by GIZ is jointly sponsored by the ECOWAS Commission and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ, Germany) to promote political, social and economic stability through investments and capacity building in select ECOWAS member states. The Micro-Enterprise Startup Support Initiative (MESSI) is a mini-grant scheme designed to support youth, women and migrant returnees to scale up their businesses and add value in three agricultural value chains; horticulture, fisheries and poultry. MESSI provides starter kits worth up to D60,000.00 for individual beneficiaries and D150,000.00 for groups of 5-20 people.
Speaking, Mariama Ashcroft, the Microfinance Adviser for the GIZ ECOWAS Project, said this is their first disbursement in the fisheries sector since they started implementing this project in 2021.
“What we learned is that women used to suffer a lot so that’s why we decided to come up with this initiative to help in reducing that suffering in the fishing industry.”
She also explained that GIZ ECOWAS project works with the young people, women and migrant returnees to help them start a business so that they can earn more income and live a better life and also to contribute to the socio economic development of the country.
Momodou Cham, Principal Fisheries Officer at the Department of Fisheries, spoke on the relevance of the project in adding value to the fisheries sector.
According to Cham, these tools are meant to reduce the work of the local fish processors and enhance their economic gains.
“We found out that women face a lot of challenges when it comes to processing of fish the challenge includes these materials they were lacking and the provision of such materials will go a long way in providing quality fish,” he said.
Yankuba K. Touray, Operation Manager at NACCUG and Project manager for GIZ, said: “We are giving kits to women doing fish processing, fish drying and fish smoking”.
Oumie Jaiteh and Sira Jawo, beneficiaries from Gunjur and Sanyang, both thanked GIZ and partners for such a laudable initiative, saying that the tools are much needed to them.
The next disbursements will continue in Kartong, Brufut, Old Jeshwang and Bakau. Some of the landing sites will also receive solar fish dryers constructed entirely by a local manufacturing company, and improved fish smoking stoves known as Nopale, presently being introduced by GIZ in Casamance, Southern Senegal. In addition to providing starter kits, the MESSI minigrant scheme provides financial education training and coaching to help beneficiaries better manage their business finances.