With Evelina Jallow

Businesses play a vital role in the economy of a nation. It is a driving force of an economy and contributes to national prosperity. Therefore, the success and welfare of business owners and their businesses are important. Foroyaa is interviewing a wide range of business owners to see how they are faring with their businesses.

Aminata Jammeh a vendor at Sandika

“I am a fruit vendor here at Sandika and I sell any fruit in season but we have mangoes and ‘kaba’s’ in season.”

“Some Mangoes come from Kumuneh or Brikama, and in Brikama some come from Foni. There are fewer mangoes this year compared to last year because mangoes didn’t ripen on time and they were not fruitful.”

“Prices of fruits fluctuate depending on how we get them. Sometimes they are high and sometimes they are not.”

“We do have customers but selling and making profits are seasonal. Fruits are perishable goods so you can’t keep them for long, if you don’t have sales you must sell at a cheaper price to prevent them from spoiling, then you run at a loss.”

“We preserve our fruits by ourselves and we don’t have storerooms to keep our fruits, we keep them outside in bags. We don’t have places to set our goods as well.”

Sulayman Jammeh a wood merchant and carpenter in Churchill Town

“I sell wood and make furniture. I get wood from the provinces in The Gambia from community forest. If they want to sell they contact us to buy, then we get trucks to load them.”

“In the rainy season it’s not easy to get wood, our efforts are doubled due to poor roads. Our trucks can’t cross to get the wood so we hire labourers to load the logs on tractors or donkey carts and carry them to our trucks on the highway.”

“We do have customers though because planks of wood are important for many things, but wood is expensive nowadays because its scarce. We sell it depending on how we get it, so making profit is seasonal but that’s the nature of business and its normal.”

“We buy them in logs and cut them into planks. Sometimes some logs do have problems but we only realise it when cutting them. Such logs wouldn’t be good for planks then we run at a loss. Spoilt logs can be useful, they can be used as firewood. One can sell it to gain little money but I don’t sell it I give it away.”

“Our challenges these years are as there is a change of government there has been a ban in wood business, thus making it difficult for us to get wood. If you get wood from Soma or Basse and you pass through Bwiam, at ECOMIG checkpoints your wood would be offloaded, you will lose the money spent on it and there’s nothing you can do.”

“I am into carpentry too because I have boys who are carpenters and wood with problems could be useful for carpenters which will also yield money. Furniture is bought from time to time depending on the needs of customers.”

“Furniture is expensive because the cost of wood and other materials we consume, such as cost of glue, cardboard, nails, have also inflated. After expenditure you notice that little profit is made. Most of us don’t have adequate tools for work too. If we are really making profits it would show on our livelihood.”

“Imported furniture contributes to our decline in sales. People buy imported furniture or furniture from foreign investors at a higher cost.”

“Every type of business needs support from government for success. We don’t have facilities for loans and grants or ideas to help our business grow. There is also no restriction on the importation of imported in order to limit 

Ali Lowe A Carpenter From Bundung

“I get wood from Bundung or Sukuta but planks of wood are really expensive. Wood is usually scarce during the rainy season. Sometimes we have jobs and wood is scarce to complete the work, then we have to return our customers’ money. Our business is usually at a halt in the rainy season, we survive on minor jobs.”

“The costs of all materials we use have gone up. Prices of materials go up almost every day. The price of the furniture we sell depends on the way you get customers or how cheap or expensive wood is.”

“It is not a very profitable business. Your profits can only yield money for survival but cannot yield savings for future planning.”

“In the past, during Tobaski we are always busy but these past two years we are short of customers in this season. Second-hand shops have also contributed to our decline in sales. Our furniture last longer and are stronger but people still buy imported furniture. Thank God now most of them are aware of it.”

“Inflation of prices is a great challenge. Government should help us with the cost of wood and other materials we use for work. Our main problem is the cost of wood.” 

Hairdressers Yankuba Joof and Baba Jallow from Serrekunda

“We are hairdressers and we have a unisex salon. We do both ladies’ and men’s hair. We also do lots of other things like making sliding windows, painting, etc. but this is our main source of income.”

“We realised that relying on one thing to yield money is not beneficial so we ventured into this business to help ourselves and our families. As young men we must help our parents put food on the table too. Many of us youth want to be engaged but we don’t have help.”

“There is profit but not much. We do have lots of customers on festive seasons but on normal days we have very few customers and spend the day chatting, unless we have contracts on painting and soakaway maintenance. We need help in any form to boost our business. We have opened this business for a while but it hasn’t grown.”

“There is an inflation of prices on the products we use for our work. Each hairstyle needs a special product. We had some but all are our spoilt that’s why our salon is empty. And the business is not moving at a pace to provide enough profits for us to buy new products.”

“We believe government should concentrate more on the youth because we are the future leaders of the nation. We should also be the mindset of government. We need and don’t have a link or platform to relay our problems directly to government too. That’s why we just manage with what we have and leave the rest to God.”

Join The Conversation