By Fatoumatta K Jallow
The Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce (GWCC) on Thursday 27th June 2019, held its official launching and the 1st Annual Women in Business Forum at a local hotel, with the theme: “Unleashing the Economic potentials of Women Owned Businesses.”
The Forum is meant to aggregate the interest of women in terms of access to finance and to establish dialogue among women leaders.
GWCC vision is meant to provide opportunities and visibility for women in business. Its mission is to educate, empower, mentor and promote women’s businesses as well as foster meaningful business relationships among members.
The Vice President of The Gambia Dr. Isatou Touray, said GWCC is a non profit, non-political member driven organization that facilitates business development and trade for Gambian women; that the GWCC focuses on strategic assistance for women in their businesses with a vision to providing them with opportunities and visibility.
Dr. Touray said it is a known fact that the Gambian economy is distinguished by operators in the informal sector with women performing a key role; that statistics have shown that 63% of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are owned by women, and that 90% of the micro enterprise are informal; that 80% of these women are involved in trading, gardening, handicraft and artisanal trade. She said these women entrepreneurs are predominantly active in rural communities, often in lower paid sectors with responsibilities for unpaid care work.
She said the barriers often faced by these women include access to information, finance and labor saving devices or technologies that would facilitate their work and increase their incomes through productivity.
“Consequently, women’s economic empowerment is very high on Government’s development agenda and this is manifested in the work of the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare,” Dr. Touray concludes.
Naffie Barry, the President of GWCC said since the establishment of the Chamber, it has been an active and constructive group, and has created networking and advocacy opportunities for its members and in providing excellent role models for women in business.
“As role models, each one of you in this room can be an incredible, important and stimulus to improving the career prospect of women and girls in the Gambia,” Barry said.
The EU Ambassador to the Gambia H.E. Attila Lajos, said European Union is pleased to support the newly formed non-profit, non-political member driven organization which seeks to facilitate business development and trade for Gambian women.
He said the new Chamber’s vision is in line with the EU’s commitment to gender equality and in providing opportunities and visibility for women businesses; that the new Chamber aims to educate, empower, mentor and promote women owned businesses as well as foster meaningful business relationships amongst them.
“Our support for this launching is a show of commitment by the EU to the empowerment of the private sector, in particular women owned business in the Gambia,’’ he concludes.
Alieu Secka of the GCCI the Chamber has set up women’s advancement organisation years ago, to assist women entrepreneurs with access to finance.
“At GCCI 60% of our staff are women. Our institutional strength since 1967 has always been led by senior business leaders, comprising dynamic professionals including women,” he said.
He assured the women of GCCI’s commitment to support them in their cause; that the Chamber will use this strong heritage, capacity, dynamism and governance structure, to support GWCC.