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Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2024

President Barrow Launches Skill, Innovations, and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Fund

President Adama Barrow has launched the Skill, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (SIE) Fund to empower Gambian youth for national development. 

The fund aims to provide technical innovation and entrepreneurship skills, enhance Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) quality, and address financial gaps hindering youth success. 

The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology, in partnership with the World Bank Group, has developed a manual for the SIE Fund under the World Bank-funded RISE project to guide its implementation.

In his launch statement, President Adama Barrow emphasized the importance of responsibly utilizing support from the World Bank Group and other donors to strategically determine projects that yield developmental benefits. He noted that the SIE Fund is an example of such targeted strategies and is aligned with his government’s tertiary and higher education transformative agenda as detailed in the 2023-2027 recovery-focused National Development Plan, Yiriiwa. The initiative aims to increase skill acquisition, employability, and job creation among Gambian youth and women.

It seeks to provide young people with the skills and economic opportunities they need by integrating them into the community and social activities, ‘fostering a more cohesive society.’

While officiating the launching of the SIE Fund, President Barrow noted, “The establishment of the SIE Fund is tactically situated within my Government’s tertiary and higher education transformation agenda. As detailed in the 2023-2028 Recovery-Focused National Development Plan (YIRIWA), it has the prospect of increasing skills acquisition, employability, and job creation among Gambian youths and women.”

“With the new Gambia Qualification Framework, our programs will reach the quality levels required by the labor market, ensuring access to both technical and general education,” President Barrow stated.

He revealed that relevant bills will be tabled during the second ordinary session of the National Assembly, and lessons learned from the fund will guide the implementation of financing strategies for higher education, research, science, and technology.

“As the first of its kind, the fund will provide equal opportunities for the public and private sectors to apply and benefit through competitive processes, importantly providing strategic support for the youth.”

President Barrow encouraged development partners, private sector, and civil society organizations to support his administration in building human capital for the country.

Professor Pierre Gomez, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology, highlighted the significance of TVET education, stating that entrepreneurship and innovation are driving forces for sustainable development. He described the initiative as unprecedented in Gambian history, offering youth an alternative and support to take charge of their destinies, as TVET is a functional education that liberates the individual.

Expressing gratitude to the president for his unwavering support, Professor Gomez described TVET education as a game-changer that develops and supports the higher education system.

Representing the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs (MOFEA), Babucarr Joof stated that the fund is a significant milestone that promises immense progress for the development of Gambian youth and the acceleration of sustainable economic growth through skill acquisition, innovation, and business development.

Highlighting the objectives of the SIE Fund, Joof elaborated on MOFEA’s roles and efforts in ensuring the fund’s success and the development of youth.

In her remarks, World Bank Country Representative Feyi Boroffice emphasized that investing in people today is essential for achieving greater prosperity tomorrow. Highlighting Gambia’s demographic profile, she noted that a significant youth population faces challenges, with 37% of those aged 17-24 not in education, employment, or training.

She stressed the importance of working together to unleash the potential of Gambian youth through targeted support, ensuring that all young people, regardless of their circumstances, have the opportunity to succeed and contribute to society.

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