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Oct 7, 2013, 11:17 AM | Article By: Cherno Omar Bobb

The Gambia Microfinance Network (GAMFINET) on 4 October 2013 held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the National Cooperative Credit Union office.

In his welcoming remarks, Lamin Fatajo, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the network, said it was a pleasure for him to present the report of the network’s activities in 2012 which focused on some of the key recommendations made during the last AGM held in 2011.

“I am glad to report that the Board of Directors tried to implement some of these activities within the limit of the financial status of the network,” he added.

“The year has been symbolic in that the network has been dormant for a long time and the Board of Directors were actively engaged in the reactivation of the network resulting in the recruitment of key staff to manage the affairs of the network.”

According to him, the recruitment included an executive director and a Programme Officer supported by a driver and a cleaner.

The network, he explained, has also set up an office to facilitate the smooth functioning of the network with members and other stakeholders.

Mr Fatajo said further: “The audit of the institution from 2007 to 2012 is completed for the first time, which gives a picture of the financial status of the network for better accountability to members and supporters of the network.

 “A website has also been created (www.gamfinet.gm) and this gives the members the opportunity to share information and good practices with other stakeholders in the microfinance sub-sector. As agreed during the 2011 AGM the network has secured funding for the establishment of a Management Information System to capture relevant data and information for the industry in a timely and reliable manner.”

The network has the responsibility of supporting the industry in data management, reporting on standard performance indicators and promoting financial and social performance management in service delivery by members, he highlighted.

“It is our belief that the network is better prepared to play this role in addition to those stipulated in the constitution and the National Microfinance Policy 2013-2017 with the support of members and development partners,” said Fatajo.

He also expressed appreciation to the key donors of the network such as the Rural Finance Project and the Social Development Fund for the support rendered to the network, which facilitated all the achievements made during the year.

“This appreciation is also extended to the line Ministries of Agriculture and Finance for being behind the network during this process,” he added.

He used the opportunity to invite other donors and partners to collaborate with GAMFINET and support it to consolidate the gains made as well as support the implementation of its strategy for the benefit of the members and the entire microfinance industry in The Gambia,” he concluded.

Ashme Cole, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, speaking on behalf of PS for Agriculture, said the Ministry of Agriculture values the contribution of microfinance to the agriculture sector.

According to him, they complement the development initiatives designed for the farming community for sustainable and rewarding agriculture sector in The Gambia through the provision of financial services that would not have been available without microfinance institutions given the performance of the formal banking sector to the rural poor.

“As you all know, the agriculture sector employs over 70% of the population, majority of whom are located in the rural area and contributed 30% to GDP in 2010 (change with data for 2012 if available) with limited access to the formal banks,” he said.

 “The Ministry of Agriculture recognizes the important role that GAMFINET can play to support the improvement of the microfinance sub-sector,” he noted, adding: “This is manifested in the support rendered to the network through the Rural Finance Project.

“The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to support the network and its development agenda to improve the microfinance industry.”

The AGM was chaired by Ndella Faye-Colley, Executive Director of GAMFINET.

At the end of the AGM a 7-member Board of Directors was elected. They are Lamin Fatajo, Dodou Darboe, Baboucar Khan, Baboucarr Jeng, Sonko Fofana, Ndella Faye-Colley and Alhagi Sawaneh.