Bah was speaking in an exclusive with this medium as part of activities during commemorations making World Entrepreneurs’ Day, which was slated for August 21, with emphasis on creating awareness for entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership, in The Gambia.
The National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI), was established by an Act of Parliament in 2004, and enacted in 2013 as part of The Gambia Government’s strategic endeavours in empowering youth and women of The Gambia.
“Since the establishment of NEDI, the institution has been working hard with other government agencies and partners to empower Gambian youths and women through enterprise development, as a means of sustainable employment creation and better livelihood.”
According to him, NEDI also conducts training in basic business skills competences and provides micro funding for youth and women to operate small and medium businesses in both the formal and the informal sectors; as well as providing business advice to youth and women entrepreneurs to ensure business sustainability.
This investment in youth and women, he went on, is the result of the need to create jobs for Gambian youth and women, while ensuring availability, accessibility and affordability of basic commodities in The Gambia and creation of meaningful employment to the targeted sectors of the value chain.
He outlined that NEDI has spearheaded four phases of soft loan disbursements, which he said, focused on different types of businesses.
“So far, NEDI has supported over 150 Gambian youth and women enterprises across the country through micro - loans, mainly in the retail businesses, butchery, fishing boats and equipment, bakery services, tailoring workshops, restaurants / catering and agriculture.”
He recalled that over the past five years, NEDI has conducted series of youth entrepreneurship training programmes for over 2,000 youth and women entrepreneurs across the country.
“And between the years of 2019 and 2020, NEDI has trained 125 youth and women entrepreneurs in Lower River Region on food processing, preservation and labeling through funding from EU TIKKI-FI implemented by GIZ”.
He acknowledged that NEDI has also supported youth groups across the country with rice threshers, tractors, milling machines and power tillers for higher productivity in agricultural value chain through collaboration with FASDEP.
On plans they are doing, Bah indicated that NEDI is currently designing valuable programmes that are tailored-made towards building the skills of youth and women entrepreneurs in the country.
“NEDI as the institution mandated by parliament is committed to working with youth and women entrepreneurs to ensure that they maximise their potentials for employment creation,” he further stated.