Most of these young people come from low-income backgrounds that make it quite impossible for them to carve a niche for themselves especially in business due to lack of resources and inadequate finances.
The Business Development component under GIZ focuses on building the skills of aspiring entrepreneurs or assist newly established startups that are struggling to stand on their feet. Abass Bah is one of those beneficiaries. He was born and brought up in Bundung and graduated from Gambia High Senior Secondary School in 2012. Abass conceived the idea of doing business when he was working in a hotel as a glass cleaner, where he used modern technology and equipment to carry out his job. Being amazed by the possibilities of what such a job could offer in a relatively small market, Abass decided to utilize his skills more productively by setting a cleaning business called Smart Cleaning. A total of 5000 dalasi was what Abass could put together as startup capital, but he was determined to get the business started with the support of few friends he worked with at the hotel: “We did not have enough equipment to do the cleaning, we also had no idea how to start a business neither knew where to obtain the documents to run our own company. We also found it difficult to get contracts because we were overlooked and underrated due to our age,” he explains.
Abass continued working with the little resources he had available until he received the YEP Tekki Fii mini-grant of D47,000 which he used to develop the business. He also received training and coaching from GIZ through GIEPA which he explains, has molded and shaped his experience in the field: “They helped me become confident and showed me a path towards achieving my goals. They helped me to become creative and gave me ideas towards expanding my business.” His professional cleaning service deals with private residences, commercial structures, offices and industrial cleaning. Not forgetting sofas, carpets, high level, and low-level glass cleanings.
However, starting a business requires much more than courage. The ability to keep moving even when things get tough has been Isatou Simaha’s mantra. Isatou couldn't complete her high school studies due to financial difficulties. She later got married and became a housewife with two sons. Her love for doing anything fashion-related motivated her to get into the fashion industry. Isatou started with a small shop where she sold threads, sewing pins, zips, buttons and little materials people needed to sew clothes as a way of starting a business since she couldn't have enough money to buy a sewing machine nor open a tailoring shop. "I didn't have any source of finance at first. As a housewife, I keep some money from my monthly allowance given to me by my husband which I used to start my little business. Later on, I bought one sewing machine costing D7000 which I eventually used to start my tailoring business,” Isatou narrates.
Isatou later also benefitted from the Tekki Fii mini-grant of D50,000 which bought her two industrial machines and one over-loop machine making it three, including the one she bought herself which made it 4 machines in all. She now employs two people who are working with her. Isatou further explains that she has grown beyond measure with the help of her coach: “GIZ through GIEPA helped me personally by giving me a coach to assist me on how to run my business up to the level that it is today. I can say that I have one of the best coaches who was always there to listen to me all along the six-months coaching, and even today he is there for me for any assistance I need.”
The beneficiaries are committed to scaling up their business ventures no matter what it takes. With the support of partners, they hope to be the generation that changes the economic situation of the small west African nation by maximizing every little opportunity that comes their way. “I believe it is possible to become a successful business person even without enough resources at the start. We started with D5000 and now we are here,” concludes Abass Bah.