|REVCEL LRR Rural Youth session|
Organized by the Creating Opportunities for Rural Youth (CORY) Gambia project, it is being implemented by the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) - Gambia chapter.
The training, which is meant to equip young men and women with entrepreneurship skills, focusing on project and enterprise development, is underway at the Trans-Gambia Lodge in Pakalinding.
It is jointly funded by CORY Project The Gambia and the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema) and officially opened on December 14, 2015.
Another training on entrepreneurship for 50 youth in the North Bank Region (NBR) is being held in Farafenni from December 11-22, 2015 which is also co-funded by the CORY project The Gambia and Nema Project to upgrade the capacities of young people.
This is the third batch being trained by the CORY, an initiative that supports young rural women and men in West and Central Africa to become entrepreneurs.
The first ever REVCEL training was conducted in July 2015 for 25 youth of Central River Region South. This was followed by the second REVCEL training for 54 rural youth - 27 in URR and 27 in CRR North.
On Monday, December 14, CORY Gambia project coordinator, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, said: the CORY project has 3 components:
Component 1: To research, document and share learning from the project through practical knowledge products, communities of practice, and events that will support the scaling up and replication of successful youth-led venture creation and business development for rural youth.
Component 2: To build the capacity of rural youth organizations to develop and deliver entrepreneurial innovation- based experimental training, mentorship, and advisory, and partnership services to support youth employees, and entrepreneurs in rural areas of WCA.
Component 3: To build the capacity of local financial institutions to provide micro-credit through risk assessment and mitigation, and to develop and deliver youth-inclusive financial instruments in rural areas of Benin, Cameroon, Gambia, and Nigeria.
Mr. Njie said the project is currently implementing the second component by “building the capacity of rural youth to develop and deliver entrepreneurial innovation-based experimental training...”
He said all these are initiatives geared towards uplifting the entrepreneurial spirit of the young people who are the future leaders of our motherland.
Njie said the CORY project is being implemented in four countries - The Gambia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Benin for the period of 3 years focusing on young men and women between the ages of 18-35 years who are involved in agricultural production and activities associated with rural markets.
The project targets rural youth institutions for business training, advocacy, networking and knowledge exchange all with a 1:1 female and male ratio.
Mariam Saine-Sanyang, the GYIN Gambia Financial Controller, said: at the end of this rigorous twelve days training, the participants would be able to create their own venture or startup a business.
She said this project is aimed at contributing to the reduction of poverty in the rural regions and to empower the young people to have a better livelihood and act on their own behalf.
Therefore, I would challenge you (the participants) to take this training seriously so as to be able to replicate the knowledge gained during the course of the training. Upon completion of this training, each participant is required to conduct a step down training for four rural youths within your areas.
This CORY project in The Gambia is being coordinated by GYIN- Gambia, and the National Implementing Partners are: Gambia Women's Finance Association (GAWFA), Jarumeh Koto Youth Development Association, and Village Savings and Credit Associations National Network (VISACA Apex).
Other partners include: The National Youth Council (NYC) and National Enterprise Development Association (NEDI).
The CORY Project is working with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded projects, the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema) and the Livestock and Horticulture Development Project (LHDP).
On this note, I would like to finally urge the participants to learn, share experiences and network with colleagues.
Banky Njie, Business Development Officer of Nema project, said: IFAD (the donors of both the CORY and Nema projects) and The Gambia government have seen it necessary to support financing and training opportunities that has long been lacking in young people.
As participants of this very useful training, you will have the opportunity to appreciate the important role that business development can play in enhancing smallholder’s entrepreneurship skills to integrate yourselves into the agricultural value chain.
It will also provide an opportunity to share experiences on successful enterprises that have transformed smallholder agriculture into profitable businesses that can contribute to generating employment and the creation of wealth, thereby reducing poverty.
It is highly expected that this Entrepreneurship training will provide you with the pre-requisite business knowledge and skills for a better understanding in preparing for your business and its operation.
We have the land, (about 60% of our land is underutilized). We have the young people. Now, with the number of different projects – we also have the investments, whether it’s Nema’s, GCAV’s, or Fasdep’s Matching Grant Facility.
So the opportunities are here to transform our activities to increase production, not only to feed ourselves, but also feed the world. We should have a vision to emulate our president –Professor Dr. Alhaji Yahya AJJ Jammeh – Babili Mansa, and heed to his clarion call – ‘eat what we grow and grow what we eat’.
Up to 70% of the youths live in rural areas in Africa and half of the young labour workforce in agriculture (IFAD, 2007). Lack of investments, to improve decent work prospects for young people in rural areas, often results in lower living standards and de-population of rural areas. The scarce availability of decent work and decent living opportunities and the little hope of a better future are the main factors pushing youth to migrate from rural to urban areas or abroad. Often, youth migration to urban areas leads to unemployment, poverty and alienation and, in some cases, to anti-social behaviours or exploitation.
According to an FAO report the average age of an African Farmer is 60 years old. This farmer mostly utilizes older technologies and traditional means of production not informed by market demands. Even though up to 70% of the youth live in rural areas the youth are not appropriately assimilated into agriculture - the reason being the youths might not regard farming highly rewarding because it is evident from those around them that the returns are not commensurate to efforts put into agriculture thus the reason they migrate to other areas or give up looking for opportunities in agriculture.
There is therefore a pressing need to change the image of agriculture. We have to rebrand agriculture….together! In this country (The Gambia), agriculture is everyone’s business.
I am therefore confident that this CORY/REVCEL business training will prepare you for this crusade of commercialising your activities to feed our nation and the world. So young people, I implore you to take this training seriously and start charting your future, and stop complaining that not much is done for the youths.
Momodou L. Fofana, a representative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), said the ministry is committed to the development of Gambian youth and their empowerment through skills development, especially entrepreneurial skills.
He said the ministry does this through its satellite institutions like the National Youth Council (NYC), National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI) and the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS).
Mr. Fofana said several Gambian youths have been supported by the government of The Gambia through the MoYS to undergo months of entrepreneurship skills training at the Songhai Centre in Benin. He said NEDI has been providing training and loans to young men and the women of The Gambia to support their business ventures.
He said if all projects go out to empower the young people – like the CORY Project – then the future of the country is bright.
Alasana Sanneh, a representative of the Governor of LRR, said the government is putting all its efforts for the country to achieve its development goals especially the Vision 2016 Food Self-Sufficiency Agenda.
It is important to build the capacity of the youth of the country so that the country can be developed as expected.
This (training) is a big challenge for the youth of LRR because each participant is expected, after this 12 days training, to conduct a step-down training for four youths. But, it is also a big opportunity for you because of all the youth in the region, only 50 have been chosen to have their capacities built on entrepreneurship – which is a very important initiative.
When you (the participants) have your capacities built and are able to share the knowledge and skills it means the whole region will benefit. We are going to put our hopes in you, we expect that the knowledge given is well understood and well utilized at the end of the training.
For any enquiries, please contact:
Mamadou Edrisa Njie,
CORY-Gambia Project Coordinator
Modou S. Joof,
GYIN-Gambia Advocacy and Communication Officer