Pa Ceesay, Chief Executive Officer of Mansakonko Area Council (MAC) has said that National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) is championing the course of young people in The Gambia.
“I must admit that NEDI is on course and on a very firm footing in empowering youth since its establishment in 2004,” he said during the opening of a five-day business plan development clinic at Rural Development Institute in Mansakonko, Lower River Region on Thursday.
The business plan clinic for 20 youth was meant to equip them with the skills of developing a bankable business plan for their various businesses.
The clinic was funded by Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), European Union funded project to curb youth irregular migration in The Gambia.
This is the first batch of 40 young entrepreneurs who will be benefiting from this clinic in the coming days.
Mr. Ceesay said NEDI has organized series of similar convergence since 2015 and trained more than 200 youth in similar disciplines.
“All these are geared towards helping youth in developing their business plans as well as establishing their various investments,” he said.
He challenged participants to take the opportunity and come up with winning business plans as principal output of the clinic with the help of their mentors and trainers.
Landing B. Sanneh, general manager of National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI), said the idea of organizing such training came in 2015, after they realised that they had trained so many young people on entrepreneurship, but they lack the capacity to develop business plans.
He noted that the clinic was not just a training program, but as they are trained they are also introduced to doing it themselves practically. “We want to move from people developing business plans for you, we want to introduce you yourself taking part in the process of developing your own business plan.”
He added: “Our role as stakeholders is to see how to create an enabling environment, but to also capitalize on the opportunities that is created also lies in your hands.”
“We want to create the enabling environment to see you through the opportunities that we create, so that you make good use of them, so please don’t let us down,” he stressed.
He said as Ministry of Youth and Sports they hold youth close to their hearts; they are much conscious about issues that affect young people, ranging from migration, poverty, unemployment, sexual and reproductive health and other issues.
He challenged youth to take up their responsibilities and change the direction so that in the years to come, all the new Gambia envisages comes to reality.
“Youth are agents of change and they are resources that we cannot afford to neglect,” he stressed.
Ousman Sonko, lead trainer, said they subscribe to the value of youth empowerment process and progressive capacity building of people to be able to overcome their everyday challenges.
“In reality if you build your capacity you’re expected to overcome lot of challenges, either as individual or as actors in the society,” he said.
He added that there are lots of gains that have been registered since the training started in 2015. “Most of you are entrepreneurs, but some of you are also service providers, you are expected to acquire lot of skills here to be able to develop your independent plans.”
“Your roles are very critical. We are not here to produce a business plan for anybody, but we are here to support you to produce your business plan, as participants, the ideas belongs to you, you know what you can and cannot do,” he explained.
He added: “We are supposed to work with you and communicate effectively to be able to translate all those beautiful dreams into an organized logical material that you can share with anybody including donors.”
“Business plans are not only meant to seek for support from donors, they are also meant to help you in becoming very organized and robust in the way you do your business.”
He noted that they want to develop that cohort and caliber of entrepreneurs who could always grow their business to their fullest.
“No government in the whole world can provide employment opportunities for all its citizens, but is the responsibility of the government to facilitate and enhance employ ability of its citizens. This is one of what we are doing here today.”