Dec 14, 2011, 2:18 PM
The competition is an initiative supported by the UNDP and executed by the Ministry of Trade Industry, Regional Integration and Employment in collaboration with GIEPA.
The presentation was held at GIEPA resource centre on Kairaba Avenue.
Presiding over the ceremony, Hon. Abdou Kolley, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, commended the UNDP for supporting such a laudable initiative.
According to him, such initiatives would empower young aspiring entrepreneurs to actualize their business dreams.
He said the competition provided young entrepreneurs and MSMEs with a platform to showcase their business acumen, skills and aspirations to business leaders, investors and donors in the country.
The importance of MSMEs has been demonstrated through employment opportunities both in the rural and urban areas, and as an effective means to fighting poverty, reducing income disparities and fostering economic development as entrepreneurs play a pivotal role as agents of economic growth and development, he said.
Minister Kolley said that part of his ministry’s broad mandate is to provide strategic support for spurring the 2008 National MSME policy to respond to the current challenges faced in the sector as well as leveraging the opportunities embedded therein.
The ministry is also committed to supporting MSMEs through improving business registration and the provision of matching grants with the support of the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project as well as the Enhanced Integrated Framework Project.
This biannual business plan competition aims to unlock new business ideas, solution and employment opportunities, he said.
In addition to finances, winners will be given additional support and hand-on support by GIEPA to chances of growth, he added.
The minister also revealed another initiative in which his ministry is involved, which is the current innovation grant under the entrepreneurship promotion and microfinance development project hosted at the Social Development Fund.
The project is aimed at supporting five entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas during its life.
“We are currently supporting three willing entrepreneurs in the commercialization of their business ideas and will be supporting additional two by the end of the year,” he disclosed.
Lamin Dampha of the Ministry of Trade said MSMEs play a crucial role in the socio-economic development of any nation.
They provide employment opportunities both in the rural and urban areas and also serve as an effective means of fighting poverty, reducing income disparities and providing the avenue for entrepreneurship development and growth.
Unemployment, he says, remains a challenge for The Gambia, hence calls for the urgent need to develop innovative strategies to address the issue, which bears a causal effect on poverty.