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Published On: Mon, Aug 14th, 2023

Government Urged To Provide Crucial Support for Youth Entrepreneurs Within The Food Processing Industry

A Gambian social entrepreneur, Muhammad Coker while speaking at the Banjul Youth Diplomacy Conference National Youth Dialogue  on Saturday at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Conference Center called on the government to provide crucial support for youth entrepreneurs and the food processing industry. 

Muhammad Coker emphasizes the need for funding opportunities, infrastructure, financial incentives, consistent electricity supply, and proper testing standards.

Coker believes that by providing funding opportunities, creating infrastructure, and offering financial incentives, the government can foster an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurial success.

“We all know this will help to preserve and maintain the quality of perishable goods. It will also reduce post-harvest losses and then ensure that there is food security, and this will enable farmers and entrepreneurs to store their produces for longer periods,  with better access to market opportunities and potentially export their products to the international markets,”  Mr Coker told the gathering.  

Coker also highlighted the urgent need for reliable and uninterrupted power, as it is crucial for the smooth operation of food processing businesses. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of implementing proper testing standards to ensure the quality and safety of processed food products.

Mr. Coker, the Founder of Agro Incubation Hub, believes that the government can support the food processing industry by investing in infrastructure, such as industrial parks or specialized processing zones. He also believes that the government can create a conducive environment for processing activities by providing financial incentives, such as tax breaks and grants.

Mr. Coker highlighted the importance of the government ensuring proper testing standards in The Gambia, not only for food but also for other products like cement.

He questions the level of standard at the Gambia Standard Bureau and suggests the need for internationally recognized facilities for testing and that by establishing these facilities, businesses can minimize risks and provide reliable products and services.

 Mr. Coker also suggests incorporating entrepreneurship into the curriculum, collaborating with educational institutions to equip young people with entrepreneurial skills.

Mr. Coker believes this will actually help a lot of young people to understand how it works when it comes to entrepreneurship.  

Mr. Coker said that youth entrepreneurship is a powerful force in economic growth and innovation. He argued that when the government actively supports and invests in young entrepreneurs, it creates an ecosystem where businesses can thrive, jobs can be created, and communities can flourish.

The Young Entrepreneur said Youth entrepreneurship is all about young individuals taking charge, pursuing their passions, and equally making a positive impact not just about starting up a business and making a profit.

Mr. Coker expressed delight at how young people are stepping up, especially when it comes to the ecosystem, bringing fresh ideas and also creating innovative solutions.

“In the Gambia, entrepreneurs are making significant contributions to the growth of the economy of the country, creating jobs, driving innovation, and also fostering economic growth. They are creating unique products and services that we are actually delighted with and also to the overall development of our nation. Out of the factors that support entrepreneurship in the Gambia, one of which is the vibrant sector that we young people should really look at so we could stimulate the goal of the economy. 

“We have organizations and programs within the ecosystem, such as social enterprises that are actually supporting the development of entrepreneurship in the Gambia to business development training, business coaching, mentorships and you name them. However, there remain huge capacity challenges,  and equally general challenges that most of these entrepreneurs are facing. This actually includes the limited resources that most of these entrepreneurs lacks,” he said.  

Mr. Coker also told the gathering that among the challenges the youth entrepreneurs are facing in the Gambia are fewer storage facilities and access to funding which he described as a major issue that is affecting the entrepreneurs in the country.

Mr. Coker said there is equally less infrastructure, and also, more foreigners  dominating the industry market.  

The Banjul Youth Diplomacy Conference – National Youth Dialogue is a major event in The Gambia that focuses on empowering youth and promoting sustainable development. This year’s theme, “Empowering Youth Voices: Shaping the Future Together,”  explored  topics such as youth-led innovation, entrepreneurship, technology, and youth participation in governance.

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