By Olimatou Coker
Guaranty Trust Bank (Gambia) Limited over the weekend organized its first Market Fair at the bank’s Senegambia Electronic Branch.The Market Fair brought together 50 GTBank SME customers with local product businesses and their entrepreneurs free of charge to showcase and sell their products.
The event was themed “Promoting Gambian businesses”, with the aim of supporting natural health and beauty, agro products, arts and crafts, fashion accessories, food and more”.
Speaking at the event, the new Minister of Trade, Lamin Jobe said his ministry aims to ensure a well developed micro, small and medium size enterprise sector that would have a positive impact on the nation’s economic growth, create jobs, enhance local food production, processing, increase domestic and cross border trade.
“As we speak MSMEs contribute over 20% of GDP and most of them are in the informal sector. In this drive, my ministry would contribute to encourage and support our partnership be their individuals or groups who operate in this sector with a view to making them more vibrant and effectively promote MSME interest”, he stated.
He continued: “Our role is to provide the necessary policies, business and regulatory environment for the private sector to thrive, therefore initiatives like this are more than welcomed and we would encourage GTBank to do more and to expand it to accommodate a lot more MSME”.
The Minister further stated that the market fair, designed to promote Gambian businesses and made in The Gambia products and services, is priceless and much appreciated by his ministry.
“GTBank has been very active in all sectors of the Gambian economy especially in the business and economic development. I want to encourage them to invest in a range of technology driven products and services targeting MSME eco-system,” he added.
Abolaji Yusuff, Executive Director GTBank, said when GTBank joined the Gambian banking industry 17 years ago, they pledged to work with the government and people of The Gambia in the development of the country.
“Our bank has been actively involved in the provision of all conventional banking products and services and has given financial support to all sectors of the economy in the form of short, medium and longer term financing. We believe that no one size fits all, that is why we continue to develop products and services that suit the needs of our different customers at all time”, he said.
He added that Guaranty Trust Bank is one of the few banks that took the risk to fully finance or in partnership equity contribution with MSME.
Muhammed Sagne, a representative from GCCI talked on the impact of trade fair and business opportunities for MSME, saying micro, small and medium enterprises are increasingly becoming an important driver of growth in developed and developing economies around the world.
He disclosed that more than 99% of businesses in the Gambia are MSME and that 97% of them fall under the micro category.
“The Gambian market is relatively small and only 60% of MSME have access to the ECOWAS, EU and USA markets. Some of the challenges faced by MSME in accessing market information include lack of tools to disseminate information, banking information, tax records, customer feedback and legal framework information,” he said.
The GIEPA representative Sadibou Jammeh said the event is a step in the right direction, saying businesses that deal with locally produced products should be empowered “if any meaningful development is to take place”.
“GIEPA’s vision is a world class agency that promotes and facilitates private sector led growth that will lead to the achievement of our mission of promoting a conducive environment, attract investors, develop export and support businesses with the overriding objective of contributing toward employment creation and wealth generation,” he added.