With Omar Bah
Winners of the first edition of the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN)- Gambia rural youth award have shared their success stories ahead of the 2018 award with The Standard Farmers Platform.
The first cohort of award winners in 2017 have since expanded their business, registered their businesses and successfully completed a three (3) months Youth Mentorship Programme on Enterprise Management.
Preparations are in high gear for the much awaited 2nd Edition of the Rural Youth Award 2018 scheduled on the 27- 28 April, 2018 at The Gambia Songhai Initiative (GSI), Chamen, North Bank Region (NBR).
Speaking to The Standard ahead of the award, Saikou Saidy who is running a refreshment center in Basse hails the Global Youth Innovation Network for the immense contribution the network has on his live.
He said since he won the Rural Youth Award last April, 2017 for excellence in Business Innovation, “I have purchased a piece of land for my Yogurt factory project, attended the International Trade Fair organized by Gambia Chamber of Commerce in 2017 & 2018 and the Regional Youth Exhibition in L.R.R August, last year organized by the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce.”
“For the past two years, Tolo Refreshment Center was operating from a home but thanks to the support and encouragement from GYIN-Gambia we have open our own restaurant in Basse this year,” he said.
The Tolo Refreshment Center (TRC), he said, was established on 1st March, 2016, saying it is set up to provide Reliable, Satisfactory and Quality food, Refreshments and Catering Services to customers at an affordable price in Upper River Region and beyond.
“Currently we produce yogurt from home and we are mobilizing resources to build and owned a yogurt factory at Basse, URR. The factory would engage in wholesale distribution and to retail a wide range of frozen yogurt to the following groups of people: Households, Children, Hotels, Supper and mini markets amongst others,” he intimated.
He said during the last year NAYCONF, Tolo Refreshment Center catered for 300 conferences.
“Tolo Refreshment Center’s products are and would remain to be unique and superior as long as they would: Offer unique features not available in competitive products, meets the defined customer needs better than competitive offerings
Higher relative product quality solves problems that customers experience with existing competitors’ products,” he added.
Mr Saidy added: “Tolo Refreshment Center products prices are reasonable, the staff Treats customers with respect, carries quality products, convenient business hours, offers catering services within desired budgets, carries a wide variety of products (e.g. ice-cream, yogurt, chakeri, meat pie, catering services, event planning etc.) .”
He said packaging materials (bottle/can, etc) for its yogurt products), packaging and sealing machine for its yogurt products, laboratory machine/equipment such as lector scope and lack of Finance for its factory project remain as their greatest challenge.
On the just concluded trade fair, Mr Saidy said his daily sales increases from (40 cups of rice to 100 cups) and his yogurt products were also exposure during the food testing and pitching competition at the trade fair.
“We made new customers and we inspired more confidence in our old customers. This is just to say our present in the trade fair all the way from Basse was a success,” he said.
He said: “GYIN trained me in entrepreneurship which had better prepared me. GYIN also mentored me for three months which help me reviewed my business plan and better organized my ideas. The allowances I gain from GYIN programs were also used to support my business as a starter and I was made a resource person trainee in some of GYIN trainings which broaden my business knowledge and skills”.
The founder of Bintou Refreshment Venture cattery in Basse, Bintou Jawara, also a GINER said she was doing her little business before she comes across with GYIN, “But frankly speaking my live was turn-around when I meet GYIN. They gave D1000 to improve my business and made me believe that I can be a million from D1000…And tell you what I have not regretted for once.”
“Since then I always ask myself how I can improve and what I am afraid to do. I now believe that I can strive by my own from the little things I have. I am always amazed by the amount of time people waste dwelling on failures, rather than putting that energy into another project,” she explains.
On the just concluded trade fair, the GYIN award winner said although sales were going very slow at the trade fair, she was able to make some satisfactory sales, compare to her normal sales.
Meanwhile, Fatou Manneh also a GYINER and the founder of F-Manneh Enterprise in Lamin said: “Yes I was doing business before knowing GYIN, but then I did not save my profit. All I gained from my business then I used it. But since I join the GYIN mentorship program my perception of life and business has changed totally.”
“Before I did not know what is profit or loss. I was just operating randomly like that, without any sense of direction. But when I won my first award with GYIN I opened my own shop and today as we speak, I have made strong savings from my profit and I am realising the importance of business,” she said.
She called on the government and philanthropists to come to the aid of the young GYINERs especially those who are operating their own businesses, “By doing that they would reduce the unemployment rate in the country.”
“I also want to call on my fellow young people to venture into business. Because those days are gone when we will wait for our governments or parents to do things for us,” she concluded.
GYIN Rural Award 2018
Speaking to The Standard on the latest preparations ahead of Saturday’s award, Ambassador Mamadou Edrisa Njie, the executive director, GYIN Gambia, said the ground is all but set for the much awaited day meant to recognize and celebrate the successes of rural youth in entrepreneurship, tourism, agribusiness and information and communication technology.
This year’s award, he added, is expected to gather more than 300 delegates, under the theme “Linking Stakeholders in the Agricultural Value Chain, from Fields to Mouths: Increase Food Production, Processing, and Marketing to provide decent jobs for rural youths.”
GYIN First Rural Youth Award was held on 29 April, 2017 at Jenoi, Lower River Region (LRR) attracting more than 200 delegates. The Award has since become an annual event organised by the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) – Gambia and partners to celebrate the successes of young entrepreneurs in rural areas.
GYIN Gambia is a network that specilises on rural development and focuses on entrepreneurship, agribusiness, coaching and mentoring, ICT and community outreach programmes improving the lives and livelihood of young people in rural communities.
“Rural transformation is an effective way to overcome poverty, food insecurity and providing job opportunities through the value chain,” Ambassador Njie said.
The First Rural Youth Award 2017 was supported by the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema) and the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) The Gambia.
The mentorship programme was implemented from 2nd October to 30th December, 2017. It was funded by the YEP Gambia, a four–year initiative supported by the European Union (EU) through the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
At GYIN Gambia “we believed that connecting young innovators in rural areas with mentors is key, and it increases agricultural production and productivity, access to markets and market information services,” Ambassador Njie said.