By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and its partners on Tuesday, November 15th, 2022, inaugurated a new packaging Hub for Small and Medium-sized businesses at the Gambia Horticultural Enterprise’s (GHE) processing centre in Banjulinding, West Coast Region.
Communications Consultant, Abdoullah Jaiteh, expounded on the nature of the YEP led packaging initiative.
“YEP packaging initiative, led in partnership with the Gambia Horticulture Enterprises has been rolled out in different folds, all geared to complement value addition, facilitate the exportation of Made in The Gambia products and internationalisation of small businesses”
The EU funded, Youth Employment Project (YEP) initiated packaging programme, is geared towards improving the packaging capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly youth and women-owned businesses in the Gambia.
In his welcoming remarks, the Managing Director of the Gambia Horticulture Enterprises, Mr. Momodou Ceesay said, packaging is a base necessity of every product. Packaging serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote and make the product marketable and keep it clean and safe.
“This will offer the opportunity for the small processors to access appropriate packaging machines and materials to deliver safe, affordable, quality products,” he said.
Speaking at the same ceremonies, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Baboucarr Ousmaila Joof, said the Government of The Gambia, through his ministry (MOTIE) is committed to supporting policies, programs and activities that improve the competitiveness of the Gambia products, locally and internationally.
“To achieve this objective, my Ministry puts special emphasis on Micro, Small, and Medium sized Enterprises (MSMEs) as they are the bedrock of our economy. They provide for the livelihoods of owners and create most jobs,” he said.
He added that his Ministry has rolled out several support measures to boost the growth of small businesses. The EU funded Tekki Fi Program and the Youth Empowerment Project have been a critical partner.
Joof said the launch of the Packaging Hub marks another milestone in the development of the MSME sector in the Gambia.
“We know that small businesses struggle to access good quality packaging materials. Such materials are often expensive or not available. There is limited knowledge to identify and select the appropriate packaging system for specific products and goods. Gaps in packaging and labelling makes it hard for Gambian products to meet domestic and international standards and access foreign markets,” he stated.
EU Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Gambia, Corrado Pampaloni, said, these initiatives are very important to the European Union because they are in line with their commitment to boost the private sector.
He said the EU’s partnership with the Government and the people of The Gambia rests on inclusive and sustainable development.
“To the young entrepreneurs, I encourage you to keep innovating and improving the quality, branding and packaging of your products,” he said.
He encourages young entrepreneurs to venture into the industry, saying “is not just an important input and precondition for business growth. It is also a trillion-dollar industry. The Gambia needs more domestic supply of materials, graphic designers and other service providers across the globe.”
He said they strive to make private sector growth more inclusive to make trade work for all and to leave no one behind.
” Our programs put a special emphasis on youth, and women. Our objective is to connect youth and women-owned enterprises to value chains and have them benefit from trade,” he disclosed.