February 15th & 16th 2018 marked the 2nd edition of the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit+Job Fair which was organized by the Startup Incubator Gambia (SIG) in collaboration with Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA), and Partners in Employment (PIE) at Kairaba Beach Hotel. This most anticipated event has brought together over 300 aspiring and successful entrepreneurs, young professionals, experts, policy makers and investors on one platform. There were series of workshops with 151 delegates to promote entrepreneurship and professional development. The theme for the summit was “BUILDING AN INCLUSIVE GAMBIA: Challenges and opportunities for youth”. The summit was full of exciting and educative activities ranging from panel discussions to workshops and exhibitions. The first session was on “Decent jobs”, where 5 CEO’s took the stage to discuss on ways and means of creating decent jobs and how their different businesses are working towards creating more decent jobs for all. This was followed with a panel discussion on social inclusion were experts talked about different aspects of inclusion. Day one ended with three breakout sessions on Health Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Inclusive Education and Access to Technology where delegates spent most of the afternoon looking at challenges peoples face in these sectors.

On day two, YES had a line-up of policy makers from the Ministry of Finance and Trade together with financial providers and experts to discuss on the topic financial inclusion, which is a very integral part of inclusion. Panelist took their turns to discuss on various issues regarding inclusive finance for all. The policy experts also highlighted the policy frameworks that support inclusion in our financial sector and delegates were also given the chance to engage panelists, especially the policy makers, to how they can create more youth friendly policies that will enhance young people’s participation in national development. These were followed by the completion of the workshops where delegates came up with recommendations on the key areas discussed on both days.

In the afternoon, YES had the most awaited pitching competition where 12 participants drawn from all regions of the Gambia pitched their business ideas for investment in the presence of competent judges drawn from different spheres of the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The contestants went through a competitive process towards making it to the finals. Their ideas are drawn from Agriculture, Recycling, Health, Fashion, Transportation, Catering and Construction. Each participant was given 3 minutes to pitch their business idea and at the end of the competition, Satang Dumbuya of Hier Experts emerged as second runner-up and will receive free publication of her business on the YESGambia website. NiniJoof of Joofen craft corner came out as first runner-up and will benefit from a free publication on the YESGambia website and six (6) months business incubation program from Startup Incubator Gambia (SIG). Ndye Awa Ceesay of HIW (Health is Wealth) came out with first position and went home with D50,000, a free six-month incubation program at the Startup Incubator Gambia (SIG) and free publications on the YESGambia official website.

Below are the key recommendations’ from the summit:

Financial Inclusion

  • Entrepreneurs need to be trained on financial literacy by institutions
  • There is a need for government and private sectors to provide access to more digital payment systems, e-commerce facilities and documentation of records electronically
  • Government should endeavor to include young people when coming up with financial related policies

Health entrepreneurship and innovation

  • There is need for advance medical sterilization, diagnostic and testing centers across all regions.
  • Young people should venture into Tech-premiership (keeping of electronic medical record).
  • Government should introduce Holistic Healthcare centers accessible to everyone.

Inclusive Education

  • The method of learning should be more student cantered to engage the student and make them more interested
  • Government should incorporate entrepreneurship education into our school curriculums to boost the creative and innovative mindset of young people and thus suit the need of every one.
  • Participants see the need for government to provide E-learning facilities in schools

Social Inclusion

  • Government must make sure that all basic amenities should be available to all without any form of discrimination.
  • There is need for more sustainable institutions in the Gambia that will harness the skills of marginalized groups
  • There is need to bridge the gap between skills acquisition and job creation
  • Technology
  • There should be the introduction of more private sector participation in ensuring that technology in our health and energy sectors are harnessed to the fullest.
  • Technology especially in life skills should be introduced in schools across all grades down to the university level

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