By Fatou Ellika Muloshi
Who is your favorite food SME and why do you love it? Local, organic, and affordable quickly top the deal here, and that’s what young food entrepreneurs in the Gambia are moving to deliver. Young businesses want customers to pay more attention to a whole new spectrum of delights going local to bring you everything from tea to a full meal.
The Gambia’s first herbal tea factory is in the making with its sights set on building a strong culture of local organic food consumption.
Yaxare, which is the Serahule word for a girl is a herbal tea venture established by young entrepreneur Fatoumatta Njie, who uses raw materials entirely made in the Gambia to process and package tea bags.
Its custom tea made in the Gambia comes with essential nutrients for satisfaction and health benefits.
The startup company produces various blends ranging from women-focused tea brands designed to help women’s health needs such as ginger, mbor mbor, wonjo, moringa, lemon grass amongst other varieties.
Young as it is, Fatoumatta’s business draws inspiration from nature’s gift that will go untapped if not properly utilized but local businesses face immense challenges to market their products as they struggle to draw consumer confidence.
Despite using nature-based ingredients entirely produced in The Gambia, Fatoumatta still imports her packaging products, which leads to fluctuation in pricing due to uncertainties in the international market especially affecting the supply chain.
A lot of young people like Fatoumatta inspire to redefine the country’s economic landscape, transforming business from its current import-based cul to a balanced mixture of heavy exports that leverages importation levels.
Nopal Jegg (lifting the burden off women) in local jargon is a dynamic brand also inspiring renewed focus on local products.
The company processes local grains into semi-cooked and stored products that can easily be prepared into ready-made and quick-fix meals within minutes.
The idea is to make cooking easier, especially for career women who may not necessarily have the time to prepare a meal for the family.
The common ordeal these businesses share is a lack of exposure beyond social media. For Binta Khan, a little bit of effort from both locals and the government could go a long way but help is very hard to come by for young entrepreneurs focused on adding value to local products.
At the entrepreneurial level efforts to boost local production in various forms for rapid socio-economic change intensify with producers looking at more innovative ways to expand and promote their ideas.
Yaxare will soon open its new outlet to ensemble every type of machine necessary in the production of herbal tea in a strategic move to bridge the unemployment gap and infiltrate the sub-regional market.
A successful string of new businesses exploiting locally sourced products and opportunities puts SME’s in great form to take over in The Gambia, where the sector contributes 9O% to the economy according to a world bank report that ranks The Gambia 146 out of 19O assessed countries.
The current focus on local production to cut importation and promote internal growth is a crucial extra mile in resuscitating the Gambia’s economy.