By Edrissa Jallow, @EdrissaJallow10
The Gambia Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) awarded a total of D1.5 Million to nineteen (19) outstanding young entrepreneurs, concluding their 2023 Keur Jula Challenge on Friday 10th March 2023. The challenge launched on Thursday 28th July 2022 saw some four hundred and fifty (450) contestants compete for 19 winning spots in a business TV show-style competition aired on QTV.
Dignitaries in attendance include; The Minister of Youth and Sport, the President of GCCI, Qgroup Foundation, Italian Coordinator Maura Pazzi, the International Labour Organisation representative, and the UNDP resident coordinator.
According to the Keur Jula audition guide, four auditions were conducted for contestants. The fourth audition “marked the entry to the finals of the challenge” where 34 successful contestants “were drawn from a boot camp and conveniently lodged for a week at a three-star hotel”.
The Chief Executive Officer of the GCCI, Mrs Sarata Conateh told spectators at the award ceremony that the initiative aims “to transform the mindset of Youth entrepreneurs by exposing them to a merit-based competitive process that recognizes effort and potential”.
“We [GCCI] have prepared these young entrepreneurs through the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) training, Pitch Desk, and even some young and successful entrepreneurs to share their journey experiences in order to inspire them [young entrepreneurs] in this entrepreneurship journey,” enthused CEO Conateh.
Youth Employment in The Gambia
The Gambia has a worrying unemployment challenge, especially among youths. According to The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBoS) which monitors employment in The Gambia, the “employment rate is 64.8% (431,168 people)”. Published in GBoS 2018 Labour Force Survey, the report notes that 35.2% (234,725 people) are out of work.
However, when Youth Employment is considered, the situation is much worse. GBoS 2018 Survey highlights that “56.8% of our youth are not in employment, education and training”. This highlights the importance of the Keur Jula Challenge which not only rewards young entrepreneurs but also helps them enhance their businesses to employ others and improve the employment rate.
The 19 winning contestants received cash prizes ranging from D50,000, D100,000 and D150,000 to support them establish their businesses. All contestants are within the youth age bracket (18 to 35) and must have experience in running a business for a year.
One of the awardees took to social media to celebrate the award. Mr Adama Ndure who runs a poultry business described the competition as an “intense, yet formidable journey. The launch of the A&S Poultry Farms idea gave rise to such success and we are very grateful”. He posted some photos of his D100,000 cheque with the President of The GCCI, Edi Mass Jobe.
The African Youth Entrepreneurship Academy (AYEA) also congratulated the GCCI and the Awardees on Social Media highlighting that their organisation “has six of her members among the winners”. AYEA also applauded “the series of training [which] has really proven to be a success and exposure for our entrepreneurs”. Below is a photo of their six winning contestants.