By: Kebba AF Touray
The 13th edition of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) International Trade Fair, opened on Sunday April 7th 2019, at the Independence Stadium, under the theme: “Regional Business Networking and Youth Empowerment Through Skills Development.”
Speaking at the opening, Muhammed Jagana, outgoing President of the GCCI, congratulated the business community for their continued support towards the activities of the Chambers, as well as their contribution towards the national economy.
Jagana said the Trade Fair is the biggest exhibition in the country and creates a platform for youth and women entrepreneurs including the general business networks who showcase their products and services to the public; that interest for the event has grown over the years from both the business sector, but public institutions as well, who participated and benefited from the trade fair through public sensitization.
“This year, Trade Fair Gambia has launched 450 stalls, with the majority of participants being the MSME sector and vendors from almost every West African country. We also have international participants outside our sub-region. Through our partnership with the European Union, farmers are supported most of whom are women from the rural areas,” he said.
Jagana added that youth participation continues to increase during Trade Fairs, which he said indicates a boom in youth entrepreneurship; that this recognition led the GCCI to partner with the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) in 2017, 2018 and 2019, with the creation of a “Youth Pavilion”. ‘‘We are honored to launch the “TEKKI FII” Project with the support from the European Union’’, he said.
He said they are hosting over 45 youth entrepreneurs under the Youth Pavilion, 75% of whom are women youth entrepreneurs. Jagana disclosed that through their partnership with the Finance Ministry, they have witnessed the installation of a new Trade Fair Center, with funding from the African Development Bank; that this aims to promote inclusive growth and institutional support.
EU Amssador Attila Lajos, said the ‘Tekki Fii’ initiative was launched following a nation-wide entrepreneurial show to encourage the youth to engage in the business sector, and make a livelihood for themselves in their homeland; that this is a three year initiative.
He said since inception, YEP has supported more than 2,000 youth, built the capacity of six training institutions and assisted more than 400 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.
Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray in her opening remarks, said ‘Tekki Fii’ is designed to equip the youth with job ready skills, as well as provide entrepreneurship opportunities for them in the country in areas such as agriculture, tourism and infrastructure; that the project is in line with the objective of the National Development blueprint (NDP) 2018-2020, which recognises youth as the engine for growth and development, as well as to reduce youth unemployment to 30%, by 2021.