The Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) will host its 2023 annual rural youth awards in June. The award which recognised excellence will be hosted in West Coast Region (WCR) featuring 10 awardees from migrant returnees, women, and youth start-up businesses. Each of the winners will receive a cash prize of €1000, the highest in the history of the award.
Established in 2011 as a youth organisation, GYIN-Gambia, seeks to create an enabling space for young people in The Gambia to showcase their potentials to transform their communities through self-sustenance.
The June edition will be hosted under an eight-month project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to foster agribusiness and entrepreneurship opportunities for returnees and host communities in rural areas.
At least 40 young people have benefitted from the rural youth award since its inception in 2017 following the national youth summer camp in Jenoi where the idea was conceived.
Most of these winners have since established themselves.
Mamadou Edrisa Njie, the executive director of GYIN-Gambia said his organisation through the award has created over 300 jobs either directly or indirectly.
The winners and runners-up of the first award in 2017 received D15,000 and D10,00 respectively which increased to D25,000 and D15,000 in 2018, D35,000 and D25,000 in 2019, D50,000 and D35,000 in 2020 and euros 1000 in 2023.
“This clearly demonstrates how far we have gone and the importance our partners attach to the award,” Njie told journalists at his office on Wednesday.
He said the award seeks to uplift the financial challenges faced by young Gambian farmers especially in the areas of horticulture who usually struggle to afford fertilizer.
“They also face market competition because certain crops and vegetables in the local markets are coming from other countries which makes it difficult for local farmers to have a good market for their farm produce,” he said.
Njie said access to credit facilities for expansion is also a challenge most Gambian farmers are facing.
“Most farmers are willing to expand their agribusinesses to generate more income and create job opportunities but they find it difficult to access funds from government agencies due to the cumbersome prerequisites that are attached for one to access those funds,” he added.
He said the award seeks to address these challenges by promoting agribusiness and create income and employment opportunities for returnees, women and youth in host communities to foster self-employment through agribusiness entrepreneurship skill development.
“We will also be supporting young rural farmers with organic fertilizers that are produced by our young entrepreneurs. We focus more on rural development. Our programs are very unique because when you talk about the rural youth awards, we are the only ones doing it,” he stated.
The Gambia has recently seen a significant increase in the number of business support organisations (BSOs) to enhance the development of the entrepreneurship ecosystem, however the majority of these BSOs are in the urban area with limited presence in rural areas.
Therefore, Njie added, organising awards for rural youths will significantly contribute in job creation and compliment GYIN-Gambia’s effort in building the capacities of provincial youths.
“So, our activities are geared towards creating jobs by helping young entrepreneurs to become successful in their businesses through our various programmes,” Njie noted.
For his part, Sarjo Jarju, the chairperson of the rural youth award said the award is aimed at motivating rural youth to stay and work in their communities through agribusiness.
“We do this annually and give them the necessary support,” he said.
Jarju said the award committee will launch a call for application for the 175 selected project beneficiaries who were trained on packaging and labeling. He said a jury to be constituted by the committee will select 30 nominees and then a final ten who will be each awarded with a cash prize of euro 1000.
“We will profile all the nominees and award winners,” he said.
Representatives of government, youth organisations, ex-awardees and members of the business community are expected to be among a glittering array of high-profile guests at the ground breaking event on 2 June.
GYIN-Gambia is a chapter of the Global Youth Innovation Network formed in 2011 and officially registered in 2012. The organisation was also registered with the National Youth Council (NYC) in 2015 to operate as a national youth organisation. It has a membership of over one thousand young people across the country. The organisation also has regional chapters in all the six agricultural regions of the country.