The Gambia - Formulating the National Entrepreneurship Policy

Entrepreneurs can contribute to job creation, growth and a more competitive economy. Increasingly, these enterprises are playing an important role in the economy of The Gambia, not only as a source of employment but also as a contributor to economic diversification and transformation. Entrepreneurship, when harnessed strategically, can become a powerful driving force of innovation and domestic investment over the long-term. With the right coordination of policy levers, MSMEs can also partner with foreign investors as local suppliers, providing services and inputs to foreign investment projects, such as food supplies in the hotel industry. In the other direction, foreign companies can have positive spillovers to the MSME sector through the transfer of knowledge and management practices.

In coordination with the Investment Policy Review recently published, the National Entrepreneurship Policy aims to build domestic capacities for the private sector. It sets an example of how investment and entrepreneurship policies can create synergies for domestic business sector development as well as for foreign investors attraction. The document stresses that several actions are still required to optimize the regulatory environment. Enhancing entrepreneurship education and skills development, and improving access to finance are the two areas where the most significant gaps need to be filled.

The recommendations of the NEP include integrating entrepreneurship competencies and skills into formal and informal education as well as promoting funding for innovation and sustainable development. With respect to facilitating technology exchange and innovation, and promoting awareness and networking, the NEP calls for strengthening the linkages between private and public sector institutions, and for instilling the entrepreneurship mindset in society.

The Vision of the National Entrepreneurship of the Gambia is that by 2026 The Gambia will have a thriving and sustainable middle-income economy - growing by 7 % at least - driven by self-reliant and innovative local entrepreneurs and an enabling and strengthened ecosystem, embracing all parts of the country. This transformation will have contributed to improved social and equitable conditions, for disadvantaged groups such as women and youth, and sustainable solutions to current social and environmental challenges.

The Entrepreneurship Policy aims to tear down obstacles and abolish burdensome requirements that hamper business operations, set efficient bankruptcy procedures and provide a fair second chance to honest failed entrepreneurs; it will upgrade entrepreneurship education and skills, facilitate access to finance and support new businesses mobilizing innovation and technology to solve environmental challenges, and spreading ICT, recognizing entrepreneurs as creators of jobs and prosperity with a focus on the inclusion of vulnerable groups, in particular women and youth. It will instil the entrepreneurship mindset, whilst addressing cultural biases including gender in The Gambian society, paying specific attention to the status of women entrepreneurs and other disadvantaged groups. Most initiatives will be in partnership with the private sector to strengthen networking, trust and cooperation among the diverse private sector players in The Gambia.

As in the investment policy implementation, The Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) will play a key role in the entrepreneurship institutional framework in harmony with the national development plan and the investment and industrial policy and their governance mechanisms. The NEP cuts across a wide range of policy areas; therefore, by nature, it cuts across departmental boundaries and involves several departments at national, provincial and municipal government levels. It also goes beyond the public sector and its agencies, to encompass the private sector and its organizations, financial and educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. As it was achieved in the entrepreneurship policy development, inclusive participation is critical to seeking ways and means to ensure that the implementation is carried out adequately, effectively and in a decentralised manner.