Top Financial Challenges Faced By Gambian Youths

Gambian youths
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The Gambia is known as “The Smiling Coast.”  The year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and exotic scenery, only a six-hour flight from the UK, make this West African nation a perfect destination for vacations.  In addition, many retirees from other countries make it their new home for their golden years.  However, for the youth growing up in this county, they face many financial challenges unique to Gambia.  Their long-term success is dependent on whether they recognize and address these issues while still young.  Our Guest writer, Rebecca discussed some of these financial challenges with some propose solutions:

1. Employment

Youth throughout Africa, including Gambia, face special challenges when it comes to finding good-paying, steady employment.  The workforce is largely comprised of young adults, so there is fierce competition for the best positions.  Seniority for service companies can be difficult to overcome.  Often, youth are left with hard physical labor as one of the most-available options (70% of the workforce is in the field of agriculture).

Young women may face an additional disadvantage due to generally having less education in comparison to their male counterparts.  Advances in primary and secondary education have resulted in more universal basic education for both genders.  However, females are still less likely to go on to advanced education.  This lack of training in special skills or a university degree also affects their ability to obtain employment.

Even with training and education, there may not be a need for certain specific skillset in existing job openings.  The Gambian economy may be more in demand of someone to farm peanuts than an office assistant.

Solution: Youth in the Gambia should consider starting their own businesses based on their unique interests and goals.  Instead of relying on luck in finding a job, you can be a job creator that would employ others. Working for yourself can provide more job satisfaction, greater financial stability, and provide valuable products or services for the community.

Start by thinking about your interests and skills.  Then, start doing your research.  There are many resources that can help up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the Gambia.  You should take time to find out about the support offered by organizations like the Gambia Chamber of Commerce, Startup Incubator Gambia and Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency.

2. Financial Literacy

Like most countries in the developing world, many Gambian youths are not financially literate. This is because the current curriculum at the secondary school, college and university does not includes personal financial management. This financial illiteracy led many youths in taking loans they do not need or poorly management their salaries.

Solution: Learn and update yourself with personal financial management tips through books and blog such as the Business in Gambia. Set your personal financial goals with proper expense management through personal budget.

Also, try to find and start small side jobs or business to save up for expenses, instead of using loans.

3. Investing for The Future

As young people in the Gambia start to receive paychecks from work or begin to profit from their entrepreneurial efforts, they may be tempted to increase their spending. It may be the first time in their life that they actually have disposable income.  They see others spending money on things like cell phones and new cars.  Young people often spend money because they feel the pressure to fit in with peers, requiring the purchase of material possessions.

However, an important part of growing into an adult is learning to save for your future.  Gambian youth have to learn how to curb their desire to spend, by remembering bigger goals such as buying property.  It’s also important to set aside money in case of emergencies such as a prolonged illness or even to cover the cost of having children.

Another important issue is that self-employed individuals are not eligible for pensions in Gambia.  Instead, they must contribute towards a Provident fund.  Young people tend not to realize that compound interest is a powerful money-growing tool, but the key is using time to your advantage.

Solution: Young Gambians must fight the urge to succumb to lifestyle inflation.  They should continue to live a frugal lifestyle despite increased earnings.  This will allow them to set money aside towards investments such as property and retirement funds.

While younger adults are often uneasy or confused about investing options, there is really no excuse not to educate yourself about money.  With a little effort, Gambian youths can research their best options for investing money towards their future instead of spending extra money on things that will lose value in a very short time.
Young people in Gambia can be financially successful.  They need to be confident in their abilities, come up with some creative ideas, and work hard.  The key is thinking outside of the box.  Your potential for success is limited if you wholly rely on job postings and spend all of your paycheck.  Accumulating debt will only further inhibit your progress.  Instead, create your own career success and remember to save money to finance your future.

About Guest Author 
Rebecca is a debt consultant for over 10 years. She has helped hundreds of individuals become debt free. She enjoys writing informative finance articles during her spare time.

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