By: Lamin Gassama
In the commemoration of the World Entrepreneurs’ day slated for August 21 each year across the world with emphasis on creating awareness for entrepreneurship innovation and leadership, in the Gambia.
The General Manager of National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI), Mr. Abass Bah, reaffirms NEDI’s commitment towards entrepreneurship and enterprise development of women and youth in the country.
Mr. Bah made this statement whilst speaking in an interview with this reporter on the year’s entrepreneurs’ day in his office at Westfield.
He noted that the National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) was established by an Act of parliament in 2004, and enacted in 2013 as part of the Gambia Government’s strategic endeavours in empowering youth and women of The Gambia.
Mr. Bah said that: “Since the establishment of NEDI, the institution has been working hard with other government agencies and partners to empower the Gambian youth and women through enterprise development, as a means of sustainable employment creation and better livelihood.”
According to him, NEDI conducts training in basic business skills competences and provides micro funding for youth and women to operate small and medium businesses in both the formal and the informal sectors; as well as providing business advice to youth and women entrepreneurs to ensure business sustainability.
This investment, according to Mr. Bah in youth and women sectors is the result of the need to create jobs for Gambian youth and women, ensure the availability, accessibility and affordability of basic commodities in The Gambia and creation of meaningful employment to the targeted sectors of the value chain.
The General Manager of NEDI Mr. Bah also stated that NEDI has spearheaded four phases of soft loan disbursements, which focused on different types of businesses. So far, he revealed that NEDI has supported over 150 Gambian youth and women enterprises across the country through micro – loans, mainly in the retail businesses, butchery, fishing boats and equipment, bakery services, tailoring workshops, restaurants / catering and agriculture.
“Over the past five years, NEDI has conducted series of youth entrepreneurship training programs for over 2,000 youth and women entrepreneurs across the country”, he said, adding that between year 2019 and 2020, they (NEDI) have trained 125 youth and women entrepreneurs in Lower River Region (LRR) on food processing, preservation and labeling through funding from EU TIKKI-FI implemented by GIZ.
Mr. Bah added that NEDI has also supported youth groups across the country with rice threshers, tractors, milling machines and power tillers for higher productivity in agricultural value chain through collaboration with FASDEP.
Speaking on plans they are doing, Mr. Bah outlined that NEDI is currently designing valuable programs that are tailor-made towards building the skills of youth and women entrepreneurs in the country.
He noted that NEDI as the institution mandated by parliament is committed to working with youth and women entrepreneurs to ensure that they maximise their potentials for employment creation.