By Oumie Bojang
The Balance Crew last week concluded its second edition of the television trade fair staged in partnership with the Ministry of Trade, and Kenny Eguakhide, an investor from the United Kingdom.
The show was in two categories: exhibition and the main stage. From the exhibition participants are given the opportunity to introduce their business to investors and potential buyers, while the main stage consists of four participants from the previous exhibitors whose businesses are worthy of investment.
The show’s aim is to nurture, showcase potentials, provide young aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses the opportunity to maximize growth, give them exposure, mentorship skills, networking, and most importantly avail them capital from investors.
There were four participants in this edition, Alpha Manneh a farmer and gardener, Fatou Jammeh an auto mechanic, Adama M Bojang a poultry farmer, and Babou E Sarr a recycler and serial entrepreneur. Each of them was put through a test to evaluate their customer care skills, composure and passion for their business.
The judges, after a much-needed scrutiny and evaluation, announced Alpha Manneh as the winner. He will be given an investment deal by the Ministry to expand his business.
The winner selected by the ministry, Alpha Manneh a gardener, artist and environmentalist, runs a farm ‘Baadala Watering Can’ where he plants flowers, fruits, and vegetables and will receive mentorship and funding from the Ministry to expand his business. Adama M Bojang, the second winner will be accorded the same from Kenny Eguakhide, the United Kingdom investor. He promised to invest in Babou E Sarr’s as well once they agreed on some business terms.
Alpha said his passion and love for the environment pushed him to venture into farming. “I started farming after graduating from senior school. I graduated in 2020 during the peak of Covid-19, thus labeled the Covid badge. Looking at the dynamics of the world at the time, I decided to go into farming route. I use my artistry skills to design my flower pots using oyster shells to beautify them, plant and water all the plants by myself.”
Adama M Bojang is a student breeding broilers in her home with the help of her younger sister. “I chose to do this with just my sister to ensure feeding and hygiene because broilers are sensitive, vulnerable to diseases and pathogens, therefore they require extra care. My aim is to end the importation of chicken in the country. The Gambia’s feeding mostly depends on chicken, I want to fill that gap and provide healthy chicken for The Gambian market.”
Muhammed Saidy, CEO of MS designs, gave the participants words of wisdom and inspiration. He advised: “As an aspiring business owner, do not wait for sponsors or support from people, start with the little funds and skill set you have and climb your way up the ladder.
“I started my business when I was going to school. I would pack my uniform in my bag, dress in mufti and walk into offices and businesses to market my printing business. Whatever payment I gained from a transaction, I’ll save the bigger amount at a shop around my house and use some to run the same errand the following day. Eventually I saved enough to buy the equipment I needed to start the printing company.”
He lauded Baba Ceesay, the head of The Balance Crew and his partners for coming up with such an initiative, saying this will help empower the Gambian entrepreneurship market and stop irregular migration.