The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, GCCI, yesterday launched the 2014 “Marché Jula” trade promotion activity, which is out to attract local and international entrepreneurs and businesspeople.
This year’s event, slated for 29 November to 20 December, will be hosted at July 22nd Square in Banjul under the theme: “Unlocking the potentials of SMEs through partnership". It is backed by Gamcel Company Limited.
The launching ceremony, held yesterday at the Banjul City Council, brought together government officials, business executives and entrepreneurs among other high-profile dignitaries, who are looking towards taking part in another successful event held once more by the Gambia’s business apex body.
In his remarks on the occasion, Banjul Mayor Abdoulie Bah stated his appreciation for hosting this year’s “Marché Jula” trade fair, adding that Banjul has always been a centre of commerce in The Gambia.
Mayor Bah said it was significant to partner with GCCI in their efforts to unlock the potentials of small and medium enterprises in The Gambia through partnership.
He encouraged women and youths to get involved in enterprising activities, and be part of the process of developing the nation through the creation of cooperatives and the growth of small-scale manufacturing industries.
In his welcome remarks, Sulayman Joof of GCCI said despite their annual trade fair, they came up with the decision of the “Marche Jula” trade fair, adding that with this move in Banjul, they would like to upgrade into a national trade fair.
This initiative would bring businesses to Banjul, he said, adding that the event also is meant to showcase Gambian businesses in order to encourage them to improve on the quality and standard of their products.
He pointed out that the trade fair would help local businesspeople to build international contacts with foreign participants to improve on their business products.
He added that the trade fair was mounted in partnership with the Ministry of Health in the campaign against Ebola, which has affected many areas of development in the sub-region.
Mr Joof added that they are also in partnership with UNIDO in the sensitization and promotion of renewable energy.
The GCCI is also in close partnership with the Dakar trade fair, he further announced.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry Regional Integration and Employment, Nafie Barry, in her remarks, said the trade fair would always highlight GCCI’s pivotal role in facilitating collaboration between the public and private sectors in advancing the socio-economic development efforts of The Gambia.
The government has always been concerned about the factors that are affecting the development of MSMEs in the country, she said, adding that as part of their mandate, in collaboration with GCCI and GIEPA, they usually organize a trade forum where the members of the private and public sectors meet to discuss issues affecting the business community.
Reiterating their support for GCCI, Mrs Barry said her ministry has been working to improve the business environment for the private sector.
Earlier in the year, she said, they updated the 2008 MSME policy to make it consistent with the Gambia’s national development document, the PAGE.
Particularly, she noted, the policy was updated to be consistent with Vision 2020, which “seeks to create a self-reliant, enterprising and middle-income nation that generates growth and alleviates poverty by 2020.”
She said they are currently in the process of developing the entrepreneurship policy, and strategy to address some of the bottlenecks that have been affecting the functions of MSMEs in the country.
Ma Nyima Cham-Njie of Gamcel said their partnership with GCCI in the “Marché Jula” is significant to their institution.
This is because SMEs are crucial to the development of The Gambia, she said.
She pointed out that the management’s decision to sponsor the programme was seen as their contribution towards national development, by supporting through GCCI.
She thanked GCCI for giving them the opportunity to play their part in the all-important trade fair, which will kick-start on 29 November through 20 December this year.
The occasion was chaired by BCC’s Public Relations Officer Sandigie Njie.