By Olimatou Coker
The European Union (EU) funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) in partnership with the Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), Talib Ahmed Bensouda, and the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) yesterday gave close to one million dalasis to three young entrepreneurs to tackle the socio economic impacts of Covid-19 on the Gambian economy and medium scale businesses.
As the country faces unprecedented socioeconomic challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak, small businesses are most harshly affected through production constraints, support chain disruptions, lack of funding, loss of markets and many other disruptions.
At the same time, entrepreneurs are problem solvers by trade and the business community is well placed to tackle many of these challenges through concerted efforts and collaboration.
Speaking, Attila Lajos, Ambassador of EU Delegation in The Gambia, said the KMC mayor’s Challenge is a great initiative to tackle some of these challenges by developing concrete solutions and providing seed capital to implement them. “The EU is pleased to support this initiative for a number of reasons”.
He said the crisis is affecting the whole economy; agricultural businesses, transport providers, distributive trade and other small businesses in a broad range of sectors all over the country.
“The initiative is a based on a partnership I mentioned it before and I will repeat it here. More than ever, partnerships are essential in this time of crisis.
The more we work together the better we will weather the crisis,” he said.
Ambassador Lajos said he is confident that the solutions that have been selected will be instrumental in addressing the issues identified in Kanifing.
He applauded all the young entrepreneurs who came up with brilliant proposals in response to this call.
Talib Ahmed Bensouda, mayor of KMC, said the council is committed to stopping the spread of the coronavirus and mitigating the impacts of the global pandemic on the livelihoods of residents.
According to him, at the conception of this fund, the council identified three primary problems in the municipality related to Covid-19 that would benefit from a private sector solution. 1. the restrictions placed upon markets and non-essential businesses which reduce foot traffic at shops. 2. The transportation restrictions which limit the revenue of young drivers through passenger restrictions and 3. The closure of schools, which exacerbates inequality and limits learning for students across all levels primary to university.
He encouraged all those who applied to the fund to continue working on their ideas and business plans.
“Our municipality needs your ideas and leadership to solve the problems of today and tomorrow”.
Also speaking, Oumie Sise Sallah, board member GCCI, urged the winners to take this as their contribution towards national development.
Beran Dondeh, a representative of the award committee, said they hadabout 44 applications and they all impressed them during the 4 weeks.
“Everyone is a winner because it shows how Gambians are diverse most especially the young entrepreneurs of country”.
The winners of the KMC mayor’s challenge are Lamin Dibba, name of the business is (Le Jumbo) with an amount of D257,000, Baboucarr Njie, name of the business is Outboost with an amount of D429,000 and Kara Jagne, name of the business is Gisqo with an amount of D330,000.