Honourable Bakary Y. Badjie, the Mister of Youth and Sports presided over the disbursement of 6.6 million Dalasis to 40 beneficiaries from National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) as a grant and loan to 11 youth entrepreneurs from SDF
Delivering the keynote address, Minister Badjie applauded the efforts of the Government for providing youth entrepreneurs access to finance. He disclosed that the youth entrepreneurship fund is a component of the Youth and Sports Development Levy that is earmarked to support youth with viable business ideas to develop their business.
Minister Badjie recalled that in July 2020, The Government of the Gambia, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs conducted an assessment to roll out the implementation of the youth revolving loan fund.
The process involved the implementation of youth revolving loan and grant schemes to be financed from the Youth and Sports Development Levy under the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
He stressed that to ensure that the impact of the fund is sustainable for the continued implementation of the program; SDF has been identified to manage the Youth Revolving Loan Scheme with their experience in managing similar interventions and NEDI to implement the training, mentorship, coaching, and provision of mini-grants for the youth. The assignment to these two institutions was based on their comparative advantage informed by the findings of the assessment conducted in July 2020 by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. He disclosed that the Youth revolving fund scheme is an initiative of the Government of the Gambia managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to provide access to affordable financial services, promote the growth of youth-led enterprises and create employment opportunities for youth and women entrepreneurs
He noted that the training conducted by NEDI provides the platform for youth and women entrepreneurs to explore opportunities and strengthen their entrepreneurial spirit. It enables young people re-position themselves as key players in the economic system and creates jobs for themselves.
Minister Badjie noted that the Government of the Gambia through Ministry of Youth and Sports is aware of the critical role of youth in national development. As such, the government will continue to support entrepreneurship development which is a vehicle for job creation and economic growth. He said his Ministry will continue to support initiatives geared towards building the productive base of youth and women in the country.
Hon Minister Badjie expressed appreciation of the various interventions support provided by partners to support youth entrepreneurship development geared towards creating self-employment opportunities for youth. He acknowledged that these interventions are highly welcomed by his Ministry. He assured the partners that their support is complimenting government efforts which is highly recognized and valued.
He disclosed that the grants and loans provided will be supporting youth businesses in the various trade areas of our economy, which includes fishing,acquaculture,agriculture,horticulture,foodprocessing,welding and fabrication, solar and satellite installation, poultry production ,sheep fattening, animal raring, tailoring and fashion, mini-markets, restaurant , hair dressing and general merchandise businesses. 51 Youth entrepreneurs from URR, CRR, NBR, LRR, WCR, KM and Banjul all benefitted from the loans and grants disbursed by the National Enterprise Development Initiatives and SDF. The support provided the Minister noted will increase employment opportunities and income for youth and women entrepreneurs, these self-employment creations are catalyst for the reduction of youth unemployment, irregular migration and crime among the youth and can immensely contribute to economic growth and development of the Gambia. He encouraged the beneficiaries to make optimal use of the support while thanking government for the support.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary Mrs Juldeh Ceesay expressed the strong collaboration between the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the implementation of this project to provide grants and loans for the youth of this country to engage in the creation of employment opportunities through youth enterprise development through Social Development Fund and the National Enterprise Development Initiatives. She urged the beneficiaries to ensure that they effectively utilize the opportunities to further their businesses. She noted the great leadership role taken by the Honourable Minister of Finance Mr Mambury Njie and the Honourable of Youth and Sports Mr Bakary Y Badjie in the implementation of this project.
Other speakers during the presentation are the Deputy Permanent Secretary Mr Kajally Sonko Ministry of Gender,children and Social Welfare Representing the Honourable Minister, Honourable Fatou Kinteh, The Deputy Permanent Secretary also expressed his Ministry’s appreciation of the grants and loans provided to the women entrepreneurs to support their businesses and urged beneficiaries to make best use of the support provided. He noted that government is committed to providing funding for the youth and women entrepreneurs citing the Women Enterprise Fund recently created which will complement the youth enterprise fund being disbursed today by the Honourable Ministr of Youth and Sports. He reiterated his Ministry is always ready to support these laudable initiatives of the by government.
The Executive Director of the National Youth Council representing the Grant Review and Approval Committee of the youth business grant urged the beneficiaries to utilze the grants in their businesses so that can grow their business and create more opportunities for the youth.He reminded the youth that the Government of the Gambia has fulfilled one of the requests of the youth on access to finance to engage in business, so it is now the responsibility of those beneficiaries to manage the grants well. This will make the work of the National Youth Council easy when they approach government for more funds towards youth development. He noted that the funds provided toady are part of the demand made by the NYC for government to establish Youth Development Fund as indicated in the NDP. He applaud government for fulfilling one of the request made by the National Youth Council on Behalf of the Young people of the Gambia.
The General Manager of NEDI also noted that his institution will continue to develop strategies to support youth and women entrepreneurs and hailed the support ,as one of the first of its kind in recent years and thank the Honouarble Minister of Youth and Sports and the Gambia Government for supporting youth entrepreneurs, while acknowledging that this will indeed create many youth employment opportunities and will reduce irregular migrations challenges and while increasing income and raising standard of living for our youth. He welcomed the officials and beneficiaries to the presentation ceremony. He thanked the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Finance for the support during the implementation of the project.
The Director General of SDF expressed delight for the strong collaboration among the partners citing the MOU signed between the Ministry of Youth and Sports and SDF.He informed the loan beneficiaries that it is important for them to utilize the loans received to support the growth of their businesses and ensure that the loans are repaid to enable others to benefit from the loan, hence it is a revolving loan. He noted that if the loans are well managed it can reach and benefit many youth entrepreneurs. He also thanked the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Finance for according SDF the opportunity to manage the credit component of the youth revolving loan fund.