Oct 15, 2014, 10:36 AM
A two-day national micro, small and medium enterprise development forum (MSME) kick-started yesterday at the SunSwing Hotel in Kololi.
The forum, second of its kind, brought together various stakeholders from different sectors with the aim of attaining the growth, employment, competitiveness and poverty reduction objectives of The Gambia.
Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE), the UNDP and the Social Development Fund (SDF), organised the forum.
Delivering his opening statement at the forum, Kebba S. Touray, Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, thanked the UNDP and SDF for the support they provided towards the organization of the forum.
The trade minister said the development of the MSME is not only considered as a way of indigenizing the Gambian economy but also as a major vehicle for delivering the needed growth and employment for sustainable poverty reduction.
A great deal of The Gambia’s population is engaged in this sector and thus supporting the development of the sector would have substantial impact on poverty, he said.
Hon. Touray noted that the forum served as a platform where topical issues were discussed, which included policy environment, access to finance, and available support services to MSME with key stakeholders involved in MSME development, to share ideas, discuss best practice and update each other on the status of the MSME policy and its impact on the business environment.
Fatou Mbenga-Jallow, Chief Executive Officer of GIEPA, said it has been 18 months since the first edition of the stakeholders forum was held in December 2011.
That forum was organised mainly to bring together different players on the same platform to create a better understanding of the MSME environment, establish the implementation status of the MSME Policy and Strategy document of 2008 as well as determine the way forward especially with respect to the opportunities and challenges of the MSME sector.
According to Madam Jallow, MSMEs play a crucial role in the socio-economic development of all nations, particularly in Africa.
They serve as a sure conduit to attaining increased growth and employment and an effective means of fighting poverty, reducing income inequality and providing the platform for entrepreneurship potential to flourish. “We need to provide the enabling environment for this to happen,” she added.
According to her, in the course of the two days, participants discussed the status of implementation of the recommendations made during the first edition, the programmes, efforts and interventions of various stakeholders as well as expert presentations on topical issues relevant to the development of the sector.
For his part, Abdou Touray, who spoke on behalf of UNDP resident representative, said the forum was not only timely but most relevant to the attainment of the national goals enshrined in the medium-term development strategy, the Programme for Accelerated Growth and Employment and the long-term Vision 2020 blueprint.
Accelerating growth with broad-based employment is a pre-requisite for sustainable employment and poverty reduction, he said.