EU, ITC, GCCI & Kanifing Municipal Council launch Challenge Fund for young entrepreneurs to tackle COVID-19 socio-economic challenges

Young Gambian entrepreneurs now have a chance of winning grants up to GMD 500,000 to implement innovative solutions to address socioeconomic challenges to Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) caused by COVID-19.

KMC in partnership with the European Union funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) launched the KMC Mayor GMD1 Million Challenge to support young innovative entrepreneurs with smart and effective solutions to help address the challenges caused by COVID-19.

The Challenge Fund is specifically designed to tackle three major problems prevalent in KMC as a result of COVID-19. These are market distortions and closure of non-essential shops, reduction in public transportation revenue, and learning disruptions due to the closure of schools.

Lord Mayor of KMC, Talib Ahmed Bensouda said “Youth have always been at the core of innovation in society. The KMC Mayor’s Challenge ‘Andandorr-Tekki Fii initiative’ in partnership with YEP and GCCI seeks to leverage on youths’ ingenuity to solve present day challenges faced in the era of COVID-19.”

The European Union is sponsoring the Fund through YEP. EU Ambassador to the Gambia Attila Lajos mentioned that concerted efforts are required to overcome the current crisis. ““The European Union stands in solidarity and unity with The Gambia and its people and is pleased to support home-made solutions that can make a difference. With this challenge, we want to give young Gambian entrepreneurs the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions. As you know, we at the EU in particular think that digitization can make a difference and we strongly promote it!”

The Challenge Fund is supported by Gambian business development service providers through the Andandorr programme with GCCI as the lead partner. “The present COVID-19 emergency is a huge challenge to all our livelihoods especially micro small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs). With this challenge, KMC, YEP and all partners, wish to seize the opportunity to stimulate our youth, prove that we can also be forward looking in finding solutions.” said Alieu Secka, CEO of GCCI.

The International Trade Centre (ITC), is the implementing agency of the Youth Empowerment Project. Fatou Mbenga Jallow, YEP Project Coordinator stressed that the communities face unprecedented challenges. However, these challenges also provide opportunity to accelerate and leapfrog in our development process. The ITC remains committed in supporting The Gambia during the crisis and recovery. Subject to the outcome of this pilot focusing on challenges in KMC, the EU, ITC and partners may scale the challenge fund in other regions.

This challenge is open to young Gambian entrepreneurs aged between 15-35 years with a registered business or in partnership with a registered business. This is also open to social entrepreneurs and NGOs as well. Applications presenting innovative solutions should be sent to accompanied by a technical and financial proposal.

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