By Olimatou Coker
The Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) in partnership with Konard Adenauer Shifting Foundation (KAS) together with stakeholders has on Wednesday held its first high-level stakeholders’ engagement on policy challenges and solutions for start-ups in The Gambia, at a forum held at a local hotel.
The theme of the forum is “to advocate for a youth-friendly policy environment for young entrepreneurs in The Gambia.”
Baboucarr Kebbeh, the Chief Executive Officer of GYCC, said they gathered to review their own policies and to also look at what the policy achieves so far, “but again to reflect on some of the challenges that have been faced in the implementation of these policies and also to pave ways for solutions.
“This day’s forum brings together 35 young entrepreneurs across the country.”
In her statement, Dr. Isatou Touray, vice president, said the demographic dividend of youths is really making great efforts and it is portraying their potentials for the future and the new Gambia.
“The Government of the Gambia under the leadership of President Barrow believes that MSMEs are critical and pivotal in the development of the country”.
Madam Touray described the forum as very timely and welcomed by the government as it will complement and contribute to the national development plan.
She added that MSMEs contribute to the economic growth of The Gambia. “We are seeing the good work of GYCC and partners are doing”.
Ismaila Sambou, the President of GYCC, stated that start-ups are the most vulnerable due to the global strengths of trade limiting their growth and development, however, startups are the biggest job creators in growing and developing countries, and the greatest hope for a fast economic recovery.
“As startups face a collapse in demand and funding, the government must act to safeguard the startup ecosystem. Without adequate support in the form of financial aid packages and startups – friendly legislation, the government risks suffocating the very engines of The Gambia’s economic recovery”.
GCC President Sambou added that this high-level policy forum is coming at a time when the African Union had initiated a continental free trade agreement creating a single market of 1.2 billion, making it one of the biggest continental market in the world in which The Gambia is the 22nd country to rectify and put into force.
Faba Jammeh, director of trade, thanked GYCC with KAS for organizing this policy advocacy forum that seeks to provide a new direction to MSME growth and development precisely about business startups.
“We may all acknowledge the fact that MSMEs are drivers of equity, economic growth, and sustained development in The Gambia. Create and retain wealth, generate employment, contributes 20% to GDP and employs the largest share of 60% of the active labor forces”.
Also speaking on behalf of MOYS, Alagie Jarju, Executive Director of NYC, said his ministry is very happy that institutions as young as GYCC can stage such a high-level forum bringing together government and private sector and most importantly young entrepreneurs to have an interface on policy implementation, opportunities, challenges and as well as to suggest solutions for the government through NYC, National Assembly committee on trade to consider in the reform and development processes for young businesses.