Funded by UK Aid, Standing4Youths Entrepreneurship program is an initiative piloted by IOM to curb irregular migration and youth unemployment in The Gambia. The ten-week programme has objectives to strengthen the skills of young entrepreneurs in setting up and managing small businesses and to make funds accessible to young entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.
Welcoming the guests, Ms. Fumiko Nagano, IOM Chief of Mission in The Gambia said economic motivation is one of the main factors contributing to the decision to migrate irregularly.
She made reference to the 2018 Gambia Labour Force Survey, where 95% of irregular migrants surveyed cited lack of work as their primary reason for embarking on the journey.
The graduates, she added, are among 364 entrepreneurs in Kanifing, Basse and Soma selected to take part in the programme based on their strong profiles, innovative ideas and their eager motivation to grow as business people.
While congratulating the graduands for their achievements, IOM Banjul mission chief thanked their partners for their support.
For his part, Talib Bensouda Mayor of Kanifing Municipality expressed gratitude to the government of the United Kingdom through the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the International Organisation for Migration for championing what he described as a ‘new form of aid.’
“Not the aid of handouts but of grassroots mobilisation and harnessing the capacity of young people and realising that economic self sufficiency cannot be created by a top down approach but by empowering the youth so that they may be agents of change and development.
Also in attendance was the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Seedy Keita, who congratulated the newly graduates for having undergone a successful training.
Minister Keita described the initiative as an exemplary and sustainable way by any standards.
“The government of The Gambia takes particular note of this approach and will endeavor to support similar initiatives and is committed to take lessons learned from this innovative program so that it can be scaled up and replicated across the region.”said Keita
British High Commissioner to The Gambia H.E. Mr. David Belgrove said supporting young people on the road to self-sufficiency, jobs and wealth creation is an important component in any country’s development.
“The Gambia’s economy will undoubtedly develop faster if we can unlock the ability of entrepreneurs and help small businesses to grow. It is people like you, who will form the basis for this country’s economic development.”
“It’s in all our interests to invest in young people and in doing so we can help deliver development, growth and jobs.
Speaking on behalf of the newly graduates, Mama A. Jarju said she has been part of several entrepreneurship trainings in the country, but the Standing 4 youths programme is one that stand out. “Throughout the ten-week I was able to learn more business ideas and apply new skills and knowledge through my coach and mentor which I have never known before.”
The training, she added, has built their confidence, their leadership management skills, communication and presentation skills, saying IOM is the ladder that each and every entrepreneur can use to have a successful business.
The ceremony started off with an exhibition where different products and goods made by the new graduates were displayed.