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YMCA exposes youths to enterprising opportunities

Jun 28, 2011, 1:24 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

The Gambia Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) on 24 June 2011 organised a youth enterprise and economic opportunities forum at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Senegambia.

The theme of the forum centred on “Unique youth enterprise and economic opportunities”.

It brought together young people from different walks of lives thus giving them a platform to learn from leading young Gambian professionals and entrepreneurs, YMCA officials working to increase and improve economic opportunities for young people to improve their livelihoods.

Oreme Joiner, National Board Chairman of Gambia YMCA, said the event formed a key component of their Big Lottery Fund (BLF) funded project initiatives.

Mr Joiner revealed that the objective of the forum was to generate enlightened discourse and a stronger platform to engage all stakeholders as well as providing strategic direction for policy formulation and designing programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation in the strategic areas of youth employment and economic justice.

“The forum is the second within a period of three months that we have gathered some youths to discuss empowerment issues,” he said.

According to him, to combat crime and its associated social challenges such as drugs and alcohol abuse among young people, there is need to productively occupy their minds and redirect their youthful exuberance to meaningful and economically rewarding activities.

He said that The Gambia YMCA’s BLF Funded project was quick to enhance women’s economic empowerment, expand women’s voice and participation, especially through the on-going advocacy activities.

“As a National Board we will continue to support our core staff in their interaction and facilitation of grassroots led initiatives and networking with emerging community-based organizations,” said Mr Joiner.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Sheriff Gomez, said that youth development is at the centre stage of the government’s development agenda.

 “The forum, coming just before the Gambia summit, could not have come at a better time than now,” he told the audience.

Minister Gomez expressed his ministry’s recognition of many NGOs such as YMCA-The Gambia for their foresight to Vision 2020 and other policies.

He further expressed gratitude to the YMCA members for their true partnership and interest in youth entrepreneurship.

Sustainability in livelihood has become an issue of globalization, he said, adding that the Gambia government through its leader, President Yahya Jammeh, is determined to explore and enhance youth empowerment.  “Young people are the engine of growth; we must continue to invest in them,” Minister Gomez asserted. 

He further acknowledged that with the YMCA’s BLF Funded projects, one can feel their presence in all corners of the country. 

Speaking earlier, the BLF Funded Project coordinator, Joseph Taiwo Peacock, said that his association is committed to services development.

They are presently supporting services such as carpentry, tailoring among others at the Juvenile wing of Jeshwang prisons.

“Prior to this forum, the YMCA convened a national micro-finance consultative forum to look at the approach for enhancing solution among others,” said Mr Peacock.

He said the BLF project reflects on cultures in each community, noting that prior to their community intervention a baseline survey was carried out to find out the critical nature of the communities.

 “Today we are working with the framework of 120 business involving over 100 youths including women and the disabled,” he said.

Meanwhile, various speakers made lectures on what it takes to be a successful youth entrepreneur in competitive environment, micro-enterprise initiatives for youth, its opportunities and challenges in the county, as well as legislations supporting innovative Gambian business enterprises.