Woman holds jars of healthy jams

How training and coaching makes business dreams come true

7 July 2023
ITC News

Growing up in The Gambia, Isatou Mboge always had a passion for cooking. With ITC training and coaching, she’s learned how to turn her passion into a business.

Her dream was to one day start a business to prepare healthy, delicious food while earning a decent living. In pursuit of this dream, Isatou enrolled at the Gambia College in 2019 to study catering. At college, she learned both theoretical and practical components of food preparation.

Her education at the Gambia College gave her a foundation to build the rest of her journey. After graduating, Isatou came across an opportunity the International Trade Centre (ITC) provided under its European Union-funded Jobs, Skills, and Finance Programme.

The programme focuses on improving the relevance, effectiveness, and accessibility of vocational and technical training.

Isatou enrolled to study a nine-month programme on agro-food processing. The training helped her to gain practical skills in food processing and entrepreneurship, which ultimately paved the path for her to achieve her childhood dream.

‘The training was very helpful,’ she said. ‘I learned all the skills in food processing and preservation methods. I was introduced to food safety and how to prepare, process and store food.

During the training, Isatou and her colleagues learned from experienced facilitators and built a strong network among themselves.

‘I was able to meet and build a network with other young people with the same ambition as me. This enabled me to learn from them, too.’

Coaching young entrepreneurs to success

The training programme was complemented by a business coaching and start-up support scheme to enable Isatou and the other young people to launch and run their businesses. Business coaches play a crucial role in supporting young entrepreneurs to find a strong footing.

Getting coaches by their sides gives young people an insight into the business world, widening their knowledge of starting and managing a business. Isatou’s coach supported her in her entrepreneurial journey.

‘The coach was helpful,’ Isatou said. ‘My coach helped me develop a strong business plan and

Women in veil shows table of healthy food products
Gambian entrepreneur Isaout Mboge displays her healthy food products at a market.
Photo by ITC

offered advice on business management and how to start my business.’

After successfully completing her training and coaching programme, Isatou wanted to start her business. But getting the start-up capital to buy materials proved very difficult. She needed to be in a more robust financial standing to purchase raw materials. Not only that, but the assets weren’t in place either.

‘I wanted to start my business because I have the skills and received coaching, but buying the materials was very difficult because they were expensive,’ she said.

In 2023, the project supported Isatou with start-up materials: a gas cooker, a microwave, blenders, glass cups, bowls, a cooking pot, environmentally friendly cooking stoves, a fridge and more.

‘These materials helped me start my business,’ she said. ‘I now have a business called Idelious Food Processing and Catering Services. I now earn a decent income through the business to take care of my needs.’

Isatou’s business is growing. She participated in the last edition of the Trade Fair Gambia International, the country’s biggest trade show, organized by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Displaying at the show helped her to earn more income, give more visibility to her business and expand her network.

Training complemented by coaching and start-up support is a gateway to helping young entrepreneurs realize their goals and achieve their dreams.


About the programme

The Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) for Women and Youth in The Gambia Programme funded by the 11th European Development Fund is implemented by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in collaboration with the International Trade Center (ITC). The project has an overarching focus on promoting a green economy such as renewable energy, sustainable construction and eco-tourism. ITC’s support focuses on improving the relevance, effectiveness, and accessibility of vocational and technical training as well as other market-led skills training to improve employability and job creation. The project improves strategic direction and coordination at national and regional level for a market-oriented TVET system, strengthens the capacity of training providers and effectiveness of their services, and supports the roll-out of training opportunities through and in formal skills training and apprenticeship programmes.