Wednesday, August 21, 2019

From Borrower to Self-Employer: Young Gambian Start-up Business Story

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By Momodou Jarju

‘‘Like I always tell people, food is money,” said Francess Squire, age 23, living in Kololi. Every living soul needs to eat to survive and according to Squire, selling food is one business she ventured in with the aim of contributing to zero hunger in the country and to also earn a living.

As the initiator of ‘‘Framar’’ Catering and Pastry Services, Squire cooks and delivers food to her customers either by door-to-door or on demand from shops, mini-markets, supermarkets and restaurants.

She is a roving business lady whose business is sole proprietorship established in 2017. She caters for birthday parties, Church programs, feasts, marriages and naming ceremonies etc., upon request from clients.

Squire’s business is faring well, however with some challenges. She said the business ‘‘goes up and down.” A permanent place where she can sell is one of her prime concerns. Squire said sometimes customers will asked her about her business’s location and she will respond in the negative, telling them that she had no shop; that from her home in Kololi, is where she prepares food with support from some youth and then sells to potential customers.

“If I have catering, I call some youth and we will come together and share the profit. I do it at home here. I go around, search in supermarkets and other places. I did not have a particular location where I can sit and sell. I have to go round offices and shops,” Squire told this reporter.

She said delivery depends on her target; that when she targets breakfast time, she Works during the night to meet the target; that by 6 O’clock in the morning, she goes around offices to sell and return home thereafter. She admits that this is tedious and painstaking at times but it comes along with a good reward.

Starting with D50:

The Sierra Leone-born Gambian said she started her business with D50 and borrowed cooking utentils to prepare her products; that barely after one year, she now has most of the equipment courtesy of her efforts and the D50 she started with; that she now has two refrigirators, two gas cookers, cake dish, displayer, cups, spoons, etc. “With that D50 dalasi, now I am able to take care of myself,” she said adding that she has stopped borrowing equipment from people.

Squire said she prepares cake often and is currently short with some equipment such as a cake-mixer; that she resorts to manual mixing of dough by using her hands.

Think Equal, Build Sharp and Innovate for Change:

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day celebrations on 8th March 2019 was “think equal, build sharp and innovate for change”. The day seeks to empower women and accelerate gender equality when it comes to business, politics, economics and other sectors of human live.

Commenting on the importance of the theme, Squire urged women to work hard and shy away from dependency; that  she believes in the mantra of ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better.’ “We have to really work hard. I always tell my fellow young girls that we have to do something because we cannot have an iPhones which costs D20, 000 and claim of not having money to do business. Sometimes one has to sacrifice. Sell that iPhone and start doing business,” she said. Speaking further, Squire said for women to become something in society, they have to be independent and serve as role models for other women; that they need to stand up for themselves. For Squire, hard work is the impetus to success. Squire said before she started her business, she volunteered to learn which she said has helped her as a beginner. “That is how we are going to improve ourselves as women,” She posited.

Innovation is vital in this year’s international women’s day celebration, and according to her, Facebook and Whatsapp, are platforms she uses to market her products online.

Expansion:      

Squire said she plans to have a shop and train women; that if she has the chance and platform, she hopes to empower women through training and to believe in themselves.

Quizzed where she wants to see herself in the next five or ten years, Squire responded that she wants to be a good person who will lead by example in society; that by then, she hopes her business will expand internationally and will train people to venture into business especially young men and women, to better their lives.

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