Gambian women see new opportunities at trade fair

11 December 2023
ITC News

Eighteen cross-border traders that work with ITC are displaying their products at the National Youth and Women`s Agribusiness and Tourism Trade Fair 2023. It’s an important venue for linking small businesses with new customers.

Jointly organized by the Gambia Youth Chamber of Commerce and Gambia Women`s Chamber of Commerce, the trade event attracts a diverse array of local and international entrepreneurs. The fair gives more visibility to small businesses so that they can grow.

The event runs from 1 to 25 December. The 18 women working with the International Trade Centre (ITC) come from the Lower River and North Bank regions. They have stalls at the fair, and they received transport and accommodation. ITC is also providing business cards and banners to the traders to boost their visibility.

The support is part of ITC’s broader efforts to improve market access for women cross-border traders.

‘The International Trade Centre's support aims to empower women cross-border traders and women-led small businesses in The Gambia, enhancing their market access and competitiveness,’ said Yassin Gai, the Project Manager of the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund joint programme at ITC.

‘Through participation in major trade events such as the National Youth and Women’s Trade Fair and comprehensive entrepreneurship training, ITC supports income generation, job creation, and fostering economic growth. This approach aligns with sustainable development goals, and collectively demonstrate our steadfast dedication to enhancing the competitiveness of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) throughout The Gambia,’ Gai said.

‘The National Youth and Women’s Agribusiness and Tourism Trade Fair is a unique platform that offers cross border traders the opportunity to showcase their products, increase sales and customer base, and establish market linkages for economic growth,’ said Beatrice Mboge, the Chief Executive Officer of The Gambia Women`s Chamber of Commerce.

Before the fair, a series of training sessions explained trade rules and entrepreneurship, as well as digital literacy. The training also unpacked the rights and opportunities available in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Since 2018, ITC has actively supported the participation of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in various trade events across The Gambia. In addition to the Multi-Partner Trust Fund, the support for this trade fair came under a project titled The Gambia: Localizing SDGs - Improving the livelihoods of vulnerable women and youth around the Senegambia Bridge.

About the projects

Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund Project

The three-year project is funded by the Migration Multi Partner Trust Fund. The joint programme aims to mitigate migration challenges and improve the cross-border environment along the Senegambia bridge (in Jarra West and Upper Badibou districts) by enhancing border posts to pre-empt situations of vulnerability, strengthening the capacity of border authorities, increasing awareness among women and youth of their rights, and strengthening skills and livelihood opportunities for women and youth. The programme is focused on the Trans-Gambia transport corridors and connects localized support measures in border communities with the broader national development agenda. It addresses the challenges of security, safety, and prosperity in a novel approach through interlinked initiatives with central government, local government, private sector, and civil society associations.

The Gambia: Localizing SDGs - Improving the livelihoods of vulnerable women and youth around the Senegambia Bridge

The project aims to strengthen the economic and social rights of vulnerable groups whose livelihoods have been affected by the Senegambia Bridge. The newly constructed bridge not only has the potential to transform trade in West Africa and contribute to integrating the region by connecting Mauritania with Senegal and Nigeria but has a much wider social and economic impact on the trans-Gambia road corridor. While there are clear benefits for the macro economy of reducing the transit time of overland traffic, the bridge also has an important socio-economic impact on the communities along the transport corridor. 

The joint project is led by UNFPA and implemented in a collaboration with ITC and several national partners. The economic component led by ITC addresses the Freedom from Want by supporting income diversification and strengthen business support services in the affected communities. The activities focus on women and youth in the North Bank Region and the Lower River Region and cover skills training in hospitality and agro processing, strengthening of productive capacities, and improving access to markets.