The Global Youth Innovation Network, GYIN, an international youth network supported by the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, a UN agency specialized in rural development will Saturday 23 July begin its youth summer camp in Jenoi.
GYIN is a Network that specialises in rural development by supporting rural youths to become self-reliant.
The second edition of the ELIT which is themed ‘expanding youth development through entrepreneurial mentorship’ will bring together 60 young people from the rural Gambia.
The camp ELIT 2017 will focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and information technology. It will also help young people to become rural mentors in their own regions.
The ELIT 2017 is also designed with special emphasis in the agricultural value chain- production, processing, and marketing of crops by young people which is a scientific model in the fight against poverty.
Speaking to The Standard in an exclusive interview, the chairperson of the ELIT national youth summer camp Ebrima Bah said the camp is mainly aimed to build the capacity of the participants “with the concept of being self-reliant to subsequently create jobs and eradicate poverty in the country.”
He said the 2017 camp is also organized to prepare the young people to make them custodians of the society, “I also want to emphasize that the GYIN ELIT is not a camp like any other, because we believe it would be a waste of time to gather these young people to only have fun.”
Mr Bah said one of the core values of ELIT 2017 youth camp is to transform knowledge and skills into performance-oriented ventures, “therefore, this strategy will not only address the crises of unemployment, it will also bridge the gender gap in the labour market thus address several other social ills such as irregular migration (back-way) and rural urban drift.”
The camp, he said, will also engage in some community service in a form of reaching out to people.
Adding: “There will be several lectures, at this year’s camp all drive towards helping the young people build better and sustainable living skills, because at GYIN we prefer to teach the young people how to catch fish than to give them fish every day.”
He said for GYIN Gambia, young people especially rural youths are the custodians of the greatest progress in society, and the solution to youth issues is right in their hands.
“Much has been done by them but proper chronicle of their interest, involvement, and impact of their own initiatives is not readily available in all cases,” he said.
He further stressed that, the ELIT initiative registered advancement in marking up the opportunity areas and gaps in development in terms of trainings and entrepreneurship in the rural areas.
Adding: “Among its main purposes is to give GYIN-Gambia thoughtful ideas as to what rural youths are doing in the areas of entrepreneurship. Testimonies of participants gave a hint on the support needed for the youth and which areas.”
He said subsequent editions starting from 2017 are designed to build up on the interest and potential recognition in the youth and further the dream into an authoritative document which will serve as a developmental guide.
“This is because the absence of a domestic and all-inclusive baseline source on youth participation in national development is a leading challenge to designing such a project in the name of young people,” he said.
He said the 2016 camp successfully compelled many of its participants to either expand their scope of business ventures or began to dip their legs into more meaningful associations with a view to inspiring themselves for community development.
Mr Bah said GYIN is also motivated to bridge the gap of technology and user competences between urban and rural youths, this, he said often, presents itself in access differentials was identified prior to the camp.
“Given the fact that GYIN is very aware of the potential of technology in improving community development, the camp introduced the teaching of the subject as core for participants,” he said.
“This time, it will be interesting to partner up the most skillful computer users with those less exposed to the system with a view to allowing peer learning during the camp.”
The ELIT 2017, according to the camp’s chairperson will facilitate the launch of the Youth Mentorship Programme to raise up momentum of knowledge sharing on entrepreneurship, leadership and informational technology.
On the youth award
He said out of thirty contestants, nine of the first batch of ELIT were shortlisted in the first edition of the Rural Youth Award out of which four won the awards in the categories of Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Young Emerging Business of the Year, Young Information Technology of the Year, and Young Business Innovation Business of the Year by a verdict of independent panelists.
“By way of the mentorship programme, GYIN Gambia rural youth awardees (youth champions) will be presented as exemplary team by the GYIN Gambia secretariat at ELIT 2017,” he added.
He said having them as rural youth mentors would strengthen their potentials to expand their enterprises and inspire their mentees on entrepreneurship and business technology.
“Based on the argument on notable gender inequality in employment and participation in the labour market, the ELIT will respond by building on its culture of creating equal opportunity for young people on the theme of the camp,” he stressed.
He said the UNDP Human Development Report 2016, indicated that female participation in the labour market is 72.2 percent compared to 82.7 percent for men in The Gambia.
“Additionally, unemployment among the youths in The Gambia remains high at 29.8 percent, and this figure has been projected to reach 37.4 percent by 2020, according to a Trending Economics forecast,” he warned.
He said the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Fact Sheet indicated that poverty is widespread pervasive and predominantly rural, “approximately three quarters of the rural population in The Gambia is classified as poor.”
He said in the North Bank, Upper River and Lower River regions, about two thirds of the population is poor- “though pockets of poverty can be found throughout the country.”
Objectives of summer camp
Establishment of a rural mentorship programme, knowledge and experience sharing on entrepreneurship, agribusiness and youth development issues at regional level.
The camp will also seek business opportunity and networking thus linking them with Microfinance Institutions like Reliance Financial Services, Gambia Investment and Export Promotional Agency (GIEPA), National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI), Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), and the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce (GYCC).
It also serves as mean to reinforce rural youth institutions, promote sporting activities, and design Rural Youth Employment Survey Plan.
Individual and group presentations, quizzes, comedy, culture, field visits to various locations such as Agricultural project sites- Janjanbureh Rice field, Mbye Poultry farm.
The camp team will also visit the UNESCO Cultural sites and Market, boat trip (Six junction or Round Island trip), exploration of historical places in Janjanbureh – Slave House, Slave market and Freedom Tree and case studies on youth mentorship programmes.