By ITC News
The economic slowdown following the outbreak of the coronavirus has strongly affected Gambian businesses, putting a particular strain on small businesses and recently created companies.
In an assessment carried by the National Association of Cooperative Credit Unions of The Gambia (NACCUG), over 80 percent of the surveyed businesses reported that their cash flow could not support their business beyond three months. This put at risk nearly 700 jobs created or consolidated by beneficiaries of the International Trade Centre’s Mini Grant Scheme.
To sustain jobs during the period of prolonged recession, the European Union-funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) of the International Trade Centre (ITC) set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund, in partnership with NACCUG and the Ministry of Trade, Industry Regional Integration and Employment and the Ministry of Youth and Sports.
The support went to operational businesses that had benefitted from the Mini Grant Scheme until December 2019 to soften the impact of the socio-economic crisis. Priority was given to businesses in sectors heavily affected, such as poultry, restaurants, fashion, services and entertainment industries.
‘My tailoring business was widely affected by the pandemic; business was slow and it was a struggle to keep going and take care of my employees’, said Ndey Bassin Faye of Basin’s Couture. ‘Business is slowly getting back to normal. The COVID-19 relief support was crucial in supporting the day-to-day operations,’ she added.
Begay Njie of Jagleh Cosmetics and Salon based in Kaur said, ‘as soon as I received the fund, I bought cosmetic and salon products to replenish the stock I was missing. [Today] my saloon is back in full operation, meeting my community’s demands.’
The COVID-19 Emergency Fund closed at the end of 2020, and 254 Mini Grant beneficiaries were supported with GMD3,467,500 ( around $69,350). Its objective was to enhance job security, and the funds provided small cash transfers based on the companies’ number of employees. Thirty-nine businesses with more than three employees received GMD20,000 ($400) in support, 215 businesses with three or less employees received GMD12,500 ($250).
The Youth Empowerment Project YEP is part of the Tekki Fii Programme, which is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. NACCUG in collaboration with the Tekki Fii Programme partners, remains committed to supporting young Gambian entrepreneurs through technical and financial support.