Boosting Women’s Economic Participation: The Launch of GWCC
The Gambia Women Chamber of Commerce (GWCC) has been launched to formalize women’s informal businesses and to help them grow.
To kick off the program, a D50 million loan package has been set up to support women’s organizations to empower their members.
According to Beatrice A. Mboge, the Chief Executive Officer of GWCC, women businesses need an organization that will take into consideration their needs, adding that GWCC will serve as a referral point to connect its members with potential helpers in making women businesses grow.
“There are other business organizations but they are not specifically for women. So putting in place a business organization specifically for women means you look at the woman in a wholesome manner,” she said. “You don’t just look at her as an entrepreneur but you also look at the background she is coming from, her family.”
Mboge said the D50 million support from Reliance Financial Services was just a starter, promising that more financial institutions would chip in. “I think this was the highlight of everything today because telling the women that we have a facility for you would ring a bell in their ears more than anything else. It was deliberate that we only brought the micro-finance – the non-banking institutions. In future events we will be bring the banks themselves to be telling women what they have for them. I mean there are so much around.”
Mboge encouraged women to formalize their businesses to stand chances of acquiring opportunities such as loans, grants and trainings.
For the president of GWCC Naffie Barry, women businesses need visibility, saying that the chamber will create and educate members and empower them for growth. According to her, the lack of business registration has caused loss of data in the country.
“Before you know who to help and how to help, I think you should first know about their existence. We are trying to get them formalized, and to register with the Attorney General’s Chamber’s single business registration.”
Fatou Choi, the President of the National Artisanal Fisheries Operators promised to encourage her members to join the GWCC to be able to access support from financial institutions like banks, the Social Development Fund (SDF) and micro-finance bodies.
“We will work with the GWCC so that we can go higher height. The problem is women don’t have much money to buy needed amount of fish at the landing sites because it is no longer obtainable through credit but cash payment. So if you don’t have money you will not be able to buy the fish to sell. We can now join the GWCC so we can get the credit from them.”
Marie Sabastian Sylva, the founder of Sylva Beads Design told The Chronicle that her market targets mostly corporate women in the Greater Banjul Area and the tourists. “I also have the international connections in the UK and the US. I have people who are there who I normally send my products to so that people who want to have it can have them delivered to them.”
Because she’s constrained by the small-size beads industry in The Gambia, she’s obliged to go to Senegal to get the raw materials at high price.
“GWCC will partner with different institutions that will help us to have the international exposure that we need,” Sylva said.
The coming of GWCC has also given hope to Rose Manga, the founder of recycling business called Rose Afrique. Like Marie, most of Rose’s needed raw materials are not found in The Gambia and therefore she expects GWCC to boost her business.
“Sometimes I have to go all the way to Dakar and it is expensive and tedious,” she said. “So having this loan will enable me to get my materials easy and fast, and to be able to sell it to the general public. “Hopefully they will support this business and buy the products made in The Gambia.”