By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
Claim: The establishment of a Youth Development Fund and an inclusive Entrepreneurship Programme.
President Adama Barrow’s government launched the National Development Plan (2018 – 2021) on 6th February 2018 which promises that “the vision and overall goal of the National Development Plan will be realized through eight strategic priorities”, one of which is “reaping the demographic dividend through an empowered youth”.
Amongst one of the key expected results for Youth Empowerment is the creation “of a youth development fund” and the establishment “of an inclusive entrepreneurship programme”. One institution already established and tasked with the responsibility of implementing these duties is the National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI). “NEDI was established by an Act of Parliament in 2004, and enacted in 2013 as part of The Gambia Government’s strategic endeavors in empowering youth and women of The Gambia”.
The NDP (2018-2021) boasts that “youth issues are receiving a priority” and points to “the first project signed by the new government is focused on youth empowerment through funding from the European Union (EU). The 11million Euro project focuses on youth employment creation and aims to provide high quality skills training for potential youth entrepreneurs and start-ups”.
This Fact Check examines how much has been invested in the Youth Development Fund and the inclusive entrepreneurship programme.
FactCheck: Our FactCheck commences with an interview with the NEDI, General Manager Mr Abass Bah. Our reporter asked Mr Bah to explain if the government has established the National Youth Development Fund as indicated in the NDP (2018-2021).
According to Mr Bah “the National Youth and Sports Development Fund (SDF) has been lunched and currently being managed by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS) with technical support from MoFEA. In line with the implementation modalities NEDI and SDF is assigned to implement the Youth Revolving Loan and the Enterprise Development Component while the sports component is being implemented by MOYS and National Sports Council (NSC).”
Explaining how the loans are managed Mr Bah noted that “the execution of the fund involves the two-line ministries” which maintain responsibility “for providing coordination and oversight functionalities in its implementation program.”
With regards to “the loan revolving and enterprise development fund, the grant funds, training and coaching activities are being managed by NEDI at the tune of GMD 8,000,000, whilst SDF manages the seed funds (Loan scheme) at the tune of GMD 12,000,000” said Mr Bah.
According to Mr Bah “the above-mentioned funds represent the first disbursement of the fund basket and the project is currently in progress. NEDI has fully executed its responsibilities as per the agreement in relation to the national youth development fund, whilst SDF also almost reached 90% implementation in the loan scheme implementation.”
Our reporter also asked Mr Bah to explain if the government has established an “inclusive entrepreneurship programme for youth” as indicated in the NDP (2018-2021).
According to Mr Bah the Government has established an inclusive entrepreneurship program. Mr Bah explains that “the youth revolving fund initiative established by Government has a complete general entrepreneurship inclusiveness package for youth and women ranging from socio psychological supports initiatives, business training and coaching programs targeting youth and women from all works of live including physically challenged persons and also the migrant return with non-discriminatory approach.”
However, speaking to ACTIVISTA The Gambia, National Coordinator Mr Danso the government continue arguing that they have created the National Youth Development Fund and youth can access it through National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI).
According to Mr Danso “accessing those funds is still a challenge for many youths especially those without employment or business. The requirements that were asked to be able to access the fund and the payment period with interest hinders youth ability to obtain the fund” said Mr Danso.
In Mr Danso’s view the “youth entrepreneurship [project] isn’t inclusive and funders and state working in parallel lines. The National Youth Council is working side by side with them to ensure this fund reach out to the needy young people. As of now, I think there are a lot of entrepreneurship training that has been conducted by the National Enterprise Development Initiative (NEDI)”.
Verdict: According to the Managing Director of the NEDI the Gambia Government has invested D8 million in the Youth Revolving Loan and the Enterprise Development Fund which is being managed by NEDI. A further D12 million is also invested in the Sports Development Fund which is being managed by the Ministry and the National Sports Council.
It is TRUE that the Government has invested at least D20 million into a Youth Development Fund, Sports Development Fund and an Inclusive Entrepreneurship Programme. However, its level of inclusiveness is being contested.