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Njie Charakh graduates 500 women in entrepreneurship

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By Amadou Jadama

Njie Charakh, the founder and CEO of Njie Charakh World Market, has recently graduated 500 women trained in entrepreneurship. The graduation held at the Friendship Hotel was attended by members of the business community, government officials, and businesswomen. The graduation came a few weeks after Njie Charakh World Market opened entrepreneurship training schools in Basse and Farafenni.

Since inception, Njie Charakh has trained and empowered over 12,000 Gambian women, some of whom are widows.

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Njie, who struggled like many Gambians to build his business from scratch, made a commitment a few years ago to empower Gambian women with the right business skills that would help them propel themselves from smallholder business owners to top entrepreneurs.

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Recent data collected in ten African countries indicates that, on average, male-owned enterprises have six times more capital than female-owned enterprises. The fact that women have less access to assets affects their ability to obtain medium-sized loans and, in turn, impacts the growth of their enterprises.

Recognising the challenges Gambian women face, which include limited access to education and a lack of economic opportunities, Njie Charakh, out of his own curiosity, started a project aimed at training women in business startups free of charge. It all started at the Serekunda Lower Basic School, where he was allocated a space to gather these women and teach them how to be successful business owners. That classroom has since given birth to two schools in Basse and Farafenni that are expected to produce hundreds of female entrepreneurs in the future.

A few weeks ago, hundreds of businesswomen gathered in Basse, Upper River Region, to celebrate the inauguration of the first Njie Charakh World Market School of Basic Business and Entrepreneurial Skills. These women are aiming to venture into or expand their businesses.

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Out of the 470 registered businesses, half a million dalasi’s worth of merchandise will be immediately supplied to the first 100 women to start their businesses.

According to Njie Charakh, the graduation signifies a strong commitment from his foundation to build the capacity of women-owned businesses.

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Njie said his objective is to ensure that women and youth are empowered to be self-employed.

“We want to support these entrepreneurs to turn their small investment into a major investment without needing to take loans that would come with huge interest rates,” he said.

Njie said the trainings will be conducted in four different categories and will cover 150 basic business concepts and skills, marketing strategies, financial literacy, business plans, and success stories.

Sheikh Ahmad Tijan B. Cherry, the Secretary General and Programme Officer of Njie Charakh World Market, said Njie Charakh has a unique approach to education that allows students to explore their passion for business.

“Njie Charakh’s humanitarian service has touched all sectors of life over the past years. From empowering women to supporting Arabic schools with learning materials and others,” he added.

The CEO of Njie Charakh World Market, Moth Sarr, said most of the women who registered with the school have been doing business for years, but they have not realised the required profit.

“This is because most of them will just get up and start business without having the required training and knowledge to do so,” he said. He said that with Njie Charakh, women are taken through all the necessary training and given the support required to stand on their own.

Muhammed M. Jallow, URR Environment Officer, who represented the Governor at the inauguration, disclosed that the people of Basse should be very grateful to Njie Charakh.

“If you empower a man, you empower only one person, but if you empower a woman, you are empowering the whole world,” Jallow said.

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He added that Njie Charakh’s decision to help Gambian businesswomen shows clear commitment and dedication to complementing the government’s efforts. “Women and youth empowerment is a key component in the national development agenda,” he said.

The Gambia is among many African countries struggling with youth unemployment challenges that are driving many young people into ventures on the Backway journey. The government has insisted it cannot provide jobs to every Gambian and thus calls for the private sector to create opportunities for Gambians.

Mr. Jallow said Njie Charakh has proven to be adhering to the government’s call and so deserves to be supported and encouraged. He expressed profound gratitude to Mr. Njie for his selfless service to humanity.

“I will inform the governor about the good adventures Njie Charakh has started in URR,” he said.

Commenting on Mr. Njie’s adventures, an entrepreneur who prefers to remain anonymous said: “These women should take good advantage of the opportunity presented to them by Njie Charakh because not all business people are fortunate enough to have an investor or financier for their business. Women’s businesses are among the leading ventures that lack financial support. It is also common for women to be denied loans because of gender and cultural biases—many institutions tend to fund male-owned businesses.

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