The Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) Gambia Chapter has successfully hosted a training Programme for more than 170 returnees, women, and youth on how to package, label, and market food products in The Gambia.
The five-day training courses took place in seven selected regions between 13th February and 4th March. As many as 25 people per region participated in the training that covered all aspects of food packaging and handling to promote food businesses and entrepreneurship.
The training courses took place in Greater Banjul Area (GBA), West Coast Region (WCR), Lower River Region (LRR), Central River Region North (CRR North), Central River Region South (CRR South), North Bank Region (NBR) and Upper River Region (URR). In total, 174 participants learned how to use environmentally friendly packaging materials to add value to and market their products, such as herbal teas, cereals, eggs, cashew nuts, or honey. They can now leverage this knowledge to improve an existing business, take steps towards self-employment or create new jobs. This training is especially crucial for youth in rural areas where unemployment is high.
The training courses were part of GYIN’s eight-month-long project “Foster Agribusiness and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Returnees and Host Communities in Rural Areas.” The Gambian-German Advisory Centre for Jobs, Training, and Reintegration (GGAC) funded the project.
The center provides advice and training for job seekers and returnees alike. These services are part of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s support for voluntary return and sustainable reintegration, which aims to improve the social and economic prospects of returnees and the local population in 12 partner countries. The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH operates the GGAC.
In his keynote statement at the opening ceremony of the training Programme, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, Executive Director of GYIN Gambia Chapter, thanked the GGAC for their cooperation with GYIN Gambia to the benefit of returnees, women, and youth, as well as people living with disabilities.
According to Mr. Njie, “the project equips returnees, women and rural youth with the skills required to set up agri-food businesses, providing them with a decent source of income and addressing changing consumption needs. These training sessions introduce them to environmentally friendly packaging methods and best practices. Currently, information on the local economy and market is limited, so many young people working in the food processing sector, particularly in rural areas, find it difficult to penetrate local markets.”
The project facilitates market linkages with supermarket and mini-market owners to help the training participants sell their products. In addition, it runs incubation hubs that offer digital literacy sessions, business advice, and in-kind support for the training course graduates. “This project will serve as a turning point, offering employment opportunities in food processing and small-scale agriculture. It fosters the development of rural enterprises that promote locally grown, processed, and packaged food consumption,” Njie explained.
Mr. Ousman Jeng, a staff member at the GGAC, said the center was delighted to cooperate with the GYIN Gambia Chapter to improve the economic and social participation of returnees, women, and youth in rural areas in rural areas The Gambia. “The project brings together producers and retailers and provides participants with the necessary skills to bring their products to market. In doing so, it helps to boost employment opportunities and entrepreneurship for returnees, women, young adults, and people with disabilities, thus offering better livelihood prospects,” Mr. Jeng concludes.