#National News

NEDI disburses D6.6 M Grant, Loans to Youth Entrepreneurs

Sep 14, 2021, 1:03 PM

National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) with support from the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Youth and Sports has disbursed a sum of 6.6 million dalasis to support youth and women entrepreneurs.

40 youth, comprising male and female entrepreneurs benefitted D50, 000 each as a grant and loan, while 11 youth entrepreneurs from Social Development Fund (SDF) got from D200,000 to D500, 000.  

The event presided over by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Bakary Y. Badjie, forms part of NEDI’s effort to support youth entrepreneurs and enterprise development of the young people in the country. 

The grants and loans provided will be supporting  youth businesses in various trade areas of the economy namely, fishing, aquaculture, agriculture,  horticulture, food processing, welding and fabrication, solar and satellite installation, poultry production, sheep fattening, animal raring, tailoring and fashion, mini-markets, restaurant, hair dressing and general merchandise businesses. 

The 51-beneficiaries included youth entrepreneurs from Upper River, Central River, North Bank, Lower River, West Coast Regions as well as Kanifing Municipality and Banjul. 

Addressing the gathering, Minister Badjie applauded the efforts of the Government for providing youth entrepreneurs’ access to finance.

“The youth entrepreneurship fund is a component of the Youth and Sports Development Levy that is earmarked to support youth with viable business ideas to develop their business.” he said.

He recalled that in July 2020, The Government of the Gambia, through the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs conducted an assessment to roll out the implementation of the youth revolving loan fund.

“The process involved the implementation of youth revolving loan and grant schemes to be financed from the Youth and Sports Development Levy under the Ministry of Youth and Sports.” 

The youth minister indicated that to ensure that the impact of the fund is sustainable for the continued implementation of the programme, SDF has been identified to manage the Youth Revolving Loan Scheme with their experience in managing similar interventions and NEDI to implement the training, mentorship, coaching, and provision of mini-grants for the youth. 

The assignment to these two institutions, he added, was based on their comparative advantage informed by the findings of the assessment conducted in July 2020 by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. 

Minister Badjie noted that the youth revolving fund scheme is an initiative of the Government of The Gambia managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to provide access to affordable financial services, promote the growth of youth-led enterprises and create employment opportunities for youth and women entrepreneurs

The training conducted by NEDI, he added, provides the platform for youth and women entrepreneurs to explore opportunities and strengthen their entrepreneurial spirit. It enables young people re-position themselves as key players in the economic system and creates jobs for them.

 “Self-employment creations are catalyst for the reduction of youth unemployment, irregular migration and crime reduction among the youth and can immensely contribute to economic growth and development of The Gambia,” he said. 

Mrs. Juldeh Ceesay, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, expressed the ministry’s strong collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports for the implementation of the project to provide grants and loans for the youth of this country to engage in the creation of employment opportunities through youth enterprise development.

Kajally Sonko, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, said government is committed to providing funding for the youth and women entrepreneurs, citing the Women Enterprise Fund recently created which would complement the youth enterprise fund. 

Mr. Alagie Jarju, Executive Director of the National Youth Council, representing the Grant Review and Approval Committee of the youth business grant, urged the beneficiaries to utilise the grants for their businesses so that they can grow their business and create more opportunities for other youth.

“The Government of The Gambia has fulfilled one of the requests of the youth on access to finance to engage in business, so it is now the responsibility of the beneficiaries to manage the grants well,” he said.

Abass Bah, General Manager, NEDI said his institution will continue to develop strategies to support youth and women entrepreneurs, saying the support is the first of its kind in recent years.

“This will indeed create many youth employment opportunities and reduce irregular migration challenges and increasing income and raising standard of living for our youth.” he said.

The event was held at the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) conference hall. 

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