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Dec 9, 2014, 9:59 AM
Reliance Financial Services (Reliance), the leading Microfinance Company in The Gambia and EM Holdings, the Parent Company of EMPAS a company engaged in the business of poultry farming on Wednesday 12th February 2014 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the Farato Hatchery Farm in the village of Farato.
The MOU was signed on behalf of Reliance by its Managing Director, Mr. Baboucarr Khan and the Executive Chairman of EM Holdings Company, Mr. Edrissa Mass Jobe.
The objective of the MOU is to provide the critical inputs to out-growers comprising local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that operate along the poultry farming value chain in terms of access to finance for entrepreneurship skills development, technical capacity building, market linkages, and infrastructure development to achieve scale at the micro and macro levels with the overarching aim of employment creation and poverty eradication.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Jobe underscored the importance of the occasion, which was to mark the soft launching of Farato Hatchery Farms and the signing of the MOU with Reliance. He presented the business structure of the Farms to the audience by explaining the key processes involved in the value chain of the poultry sub-sector starting from the parenting of the eggs the end of the transformational processes to the hatchery of the eggs to chicks, using the latest state of the art technology Mr. Jobe highlighted that the cost of the investment in the Farm, which so far is close to the tune of over USD4 million; and that for the first time Gambians will no longer need to import chicks from abroad as inputs for their poultry businesses along with the feed which are now being processed locally at a sister Farm.
Mr. Jobe singled out Reliance for special praise in remarks for their timely response in addressing the biggest challenge facing the out-growers that is access to affordable finance and more importantly their capacity to structure a financing scheme along the value chain of the poultry sub-sector devoid of all the bureaucracies and endless paperwork that one experiences with the conventional banks. Mr. Jobe then thanked the President His Excellency Alhaji Dr. Yayha A.J.J. Jammeh and his entire government for his visionary leadership particularly in Agriculture with the “Back to the Land Call” and leading by example in this respect.
Mr. Jobe extended his gratitude to First International Bank, the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project for their support in financing the initial start-up phase and provision of technical assistance for the capacity building of the out-growers respectively. The Hatchery, Mr. Jobe reminded the audience was the first phase within the multi-faceted investments at the Farm citing the Processing Plant which is at an advanced stage to complete the jigsaw. This plant he intimated will require over Euros1 million investment. In concluding his remarks, Mr. Jobe urged Reliance to replicate this financing model across all the key sectors of the economy starting with the other sub-sectors in Agriculture such as horticulture, cash crop framing, animal husbandry as well as the fisheries sector.
Mr. Baboucarr Khan, the Managing Director of Reliance took to the microphone and started by citing the new financial and business models that Bankers in Africa and The Gambia in particular should embrace in order to deliver high impact results on society at large. He noted the values of his company Reliance, in that while it is uncommon to see Bankers in their suits visiting Farms, this is what Reliance actually stands for and will always endeavor to take their business and value propositions to the communities and their customers – the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) wherever they are to deliver their products and services.
He shared with the audience, Reliance’s excitement to being the preferred financial services partner of EMPAS and their out-growers which has culminated in the signing ceremony of the MOU as part of the soft launching of the Farato Farms. Mr. Khan reminded the audience of the relevance of the Farato Farms business initiative in response to the President, His Excellency Sheikh, Alhaji Dr. Yayha A.J.J. Jammeh’s vision of “growing what you eat” and “eating what you grow” within the overall Back to the Land Call. Mr. Khan underscored the importance of the Agricultural sector within the overall context of the socio-economic developmental aspirations of The Gambia noting that it employs between 70% to 80% of the economically active population, contributes 30% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and yet only receives between 12% and 15% of the total loans and advances from the conventional banks.
Mr. Khan explained the importance of availing affordable finance to the agricultural sector as a catalyst for growth and economic development without which the aspirations of our country to move on to value-adding processes, small scale manufacturing and industrialization would not be realized or would take much longer. Mr. Khan cited the massive importation bill that the government incurs annually highlighting that by investing and developing Agricultural sector, as has been done by Mr. Jobe as entrepreneur pas excellence should inspire many more Gambians to emulate him in this endeavor.
Mr. Khan explained in greater detail as to how the value proposition put forward by Reliance will provide access to finance across the value chain starting with the suppliers of inputs such as corn and fish meal used to prepare chicken feed, the rearing of the chicks in terms of suitable houses and feeding systems to the market makers who buy the final produce from EMPAS and sell to the consumers using their recently launched Local Purchase Order (LPO) or Contract Financing which captures the entire financial ecosystem along the value chain of the Poultry Farming. Mr. Khan closed his remarks by thanking Mr. Jobe and his entire Management team for the partnership while expressing gratitude to the GGCP for their support in the development of their Agri-business program in the latter part of 2013.
For his part, Mr. Pa Ousman Njie the General Manager Corporate and Institutional Banking - FI Bank expressed how proud his Bank is to be associated with the soft launching of this laudable investment. He noted that since day one FI Bank has been very important partners in this venture, adding that FI Bank started financing the investment in the hatchery and is happy to see the significant progress made in the Project thus far. Today we are proud to see the benefits of partnering with EM Holdings for the achievement of this magnificent edifice the first of its kind in The Gambia.
Prior to the signing ceremony, Mr. Jobe took the audience through a tour of the facilities within the Farm starting with the Hatchery, which was led by the Manager Mr. Dawda Mboob. The audience had the privilege of witnessing the hatching of a batch of chicks, which were to be delivered to one of the out-growers, Mr. Amadou Demba the Proprietor of Siffoe Farms. Some of the audience actually participated in the sorting and packaging of the chicks ready for delivery after seeing the first vaccinations being performed on all the chicks.
From the Hatchery, the audience was taken to the processing plant, which is at an advanced stage of completion pending the installation of the automated processing machines. Mr. James the Processing Manager at the Farm took the audience to the current processing plant where over 2 dozens of women all from the Farato village community were seen processing the fully bred chicken bound for the supermarket shelves and eventually for our consumption in our lunch and dinner meals.
Mr. Tamsir Manga the Project Coordinator at the Gambia Growth and Competitiveness Project spoke at the end and confirmed their satisfaction with the support they provided to EMPAS in developing the out-growers scheme which he deemed successful. He thanked Reliance for coming to complement their efforts by signing this MOU to provide acces to finance to the out-growers and encourage the other financial institutions in the country to emulate the example of Reliance Financial Services and participate in supporting all the productive sectors of the economy.
Mr. Amadou Demba also spoke thanking EMPAS after highlighting the importance of their intervention in helping his business and many more of his colleagues in the sector. He notes the frustrations they used to endure in importing chicken feed and chicks from Senegal and other European Countries as well as the losses incurred not to mention the cost of transportation all of which they can now save as they can source all of their inputs directly from EMPAS. He thanked Reliance for their timely intervention in the sector, as accessing finance to expand and grow their businesses has always been their biggest challenge.
Messrs. Jobe and Khan then inked their signatures to the MOU witnessed by the audience which was followed by questions and answer session from the Press Corps during which time refreshments were served.