By Olimatou Coker
The Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC) on Monday concluded a week-long regional youth exhibition for 30 exhibitors in Bansang, Central River Region (CRR).
The exhibition with the theme creating space for youth entrepreneurs to curb irregular migration was funded by the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). It was the third regional youth exhibition organised by GYCC.
The week long exhibition/ trade fair started with a training with the 30 exhibitors to expose them to trade fair preparation, marketing and networking strategies as well as the opportunities available for all for the at GYCC , YEP among others.
At the end of the exhibition, GYCC will launch a regional chapter expected to continue to steer the affair youth entrepreneurs in CRR and support them in capacity building to curb other social vices within the region.
GYCC in partnership with YEP are also expected to conduct a market assessment (lumos) in CRR, NBR, LRR and URR to assess the opportunities, spaces and challenges of these lumos and find out way in which YEP will support the facilitation of better spaces for youth of these regions.
Speaking at the opening held last Thursday, Baboucarr Kebbeh CEO Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce said “creating of a public entrepreneurship space, places a great hope in powering our youth in shaping the future of the Gambia, because young people are the Gambia”.
Mr Kebbeh noted that to realize the youth demographic dividend, the government of the Gambia and private sector must invest in the empowerment, education and employment of the young people.
He pointed out that 38% of Gambia’s youth are either not employed or have a decent job to be able to realise their individual dreams and aspirations, adding that the unprecedented rising rate of these circumstances are unacceptable.
He therefore called on government and the private sector to support young entrepreneurs to access finance, saying they do not need loans with too many condition, but rather new Gambia to give young people grants.
“If young people are seriously engage in Business entrepreneurship, then they will be too busy to spark violence or do anything that will jeopardise the peace and security of the country in particular and the Africa at large.
“This is the time to fight in war of words of business and drop the arms”, he stated.
He told the exhibitors to take the risk and not only invest their money, but also their time and passion, in order to empower other people.
Baboucarr Sallah, YEP Operations and Finance Officer explained that YEP intervention areas include tourism, agro-business, ICT as well as livelihood development.
He added that they do not only train young people but also give them start-up capital to start their own businesses.Mr Sallah urged youth entrepreneurs to take advantage of opportunities available for them.
He also expressed their pride to be associated with GYCC while also expressing their readiness to continue supporting Gambian youth.
Hon Sulayman Barry, Governor Central River Region in his official statement said there are so many young people doing great things but because they lack opportunities people do not know what they are doing.
Government looks at strategies that will support young people and leave long term impacts on their lives, he noted, adding that government has been taking a lot of actions and initiatives that are geared towards empowering young people to ensure they are able to participate in our social, economic and political environments.
He pointed out that government want to build a sustainable future moving forward and can only achieve that when it prepares young people.
The development of the country to a large extend rest on the hands of young people since they form the greater number, he went on, saying the miracle for the accelerated development of the country lies on young people.
According to him a lot is being done for young people and the rest lies on them to take up the opportunities with responsibility.
“Young people must make the right choices right now”, he stated while also calling on young people to be law abiding as well as come together and work collectively as there is a lot of hope for young people.
He commended organisers and funders of the event for the initiative which he described as great.