What are some of the investment opportunities in the New Gambia? For a start, let agree that every change is an opportunity, but only the prepared and smart entrepreneurs would see it as such. We have seen the European Union pledged €75m in immediate funding and €150m in the longer term to help “make sure that the new Gambian state can deliver as it should. Part of this funding also includes the Gambia Youth Empowerment Project.
The investment opportunities in this article have created some of the successful entrepreneurs in the Gambia, and If you want to increase your chances of building a successful business in the new Gambia, these opportunities can possibly make your dream come true.
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Let’s meet these investment opportunities:
In recent times the Gambia is getting increasingly popular as a location for shooting films by producers of the sub-region, especially Nigerians and Ghanaians. However, most of the movies shot in the country are realized by non-Gambian producers, directors, and already popular actors/actresses from Nigeria to leverage the films in the international market.
Young Gambian entrepreneurs and investors should make use of these investment opportunities through learning and join the value chain of the entertainment business. You will be surprised that some Gambians are doing well in this sector. Let me share a few stories of the movies personalities that relate to the Gambia.
- 2011 Award-winning movie “Mirror boy” was shot in the Gambia and England but written, produced and directed by non-Gambians. There were very few Gambian actors and actresses in the movie, but the main actors/actress were Nigerians.
- Ebou Waggeh, the CEO of WAX Media, once served as a judge in the first phase of MNET initiative, to award excellence in African filmmaking (Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards). He can tell you how many Gambians or Gambian movies were nominated in such a platform. Maybe one, Fatim Jabbie, a Gambian Sierreloenean.
- Princess Shyingle a Gambian actress based in Ghana has been featured in several top rated movies and TV series in the sub-region. She has worked and acted with Ghanaian and Nigerian actors and she recently started to produce her own movies.
- Fatima Jabbie – London-based Gambian movie star has featured in numerous Nollywood films shot in the UK and Nigeria including ‘Shameful Deceit’ and ‘Mirror Boy’ movie.
To understand the opportunities in this sector, here are a few parts of the film value chain.
- Production – No formal financing platform, historically, no Gambian movie has won well recognized international awards.
- Distribution platforms – No major cinema to view Gambian and latest international movies. Few online platforms have started but their minimum viable products have still not won the heart of most customers.
With weakness in the production and distribution value chain, the movie industry is still an investment opportunity in the Gambia. It can serve thousands of Gambian and lovers of Gambian culture. You should also note that it is not just the film industry that’s on the rise but the music, comedy and general entertainment has become hot cakes in Africa. This industry could surely be your opportunity to start a business in the Gambia.
2. Agriculture should be our Business
Agribusiness employs about 75% of the Gambia labour force, but it still accounts for less than 20% of Gambia GDP (2013). This makes agriculture as another major investment opportunity in the Gambia. Starting from rice, grains, milk and all sorts of raw and semi-processed agro products are still imported into the country. Entrepreneurs who can produce food products locally could reap huge rewards of agriculture investment opportunities in the country.
With farm inputs, production, value adding, distribution and trading there are various agribusiness opportunities for any potential investor.
Currently, over 80% of milk and milk products are imported into the Gambia, and in 2015 about 18% of import into Gambia was sugar and rice. In a few years to come, I expect passionate Gambian entrepreneurs to make some fortune in this industry.
Saadis Group Gambia started a major poultry business (P4P) which was financed by the Food and Agricultural Sector Development Project – FASDEP. Sahel Invest prepared the business plan.
3. Retail and Consumer market
With over 50% of the Gambia population between the ages of 15-55, Gambia’s youthful market is yet another opportunity to serve the retail market. Most retail shops specialize in groceries, household and electrical appliances with no proper parking space for customers. Apart from the support of Julabaa store, most of the retail stores in the Gambia has no website to sell their stocks online.
Gambians will definitely turn to any mall or shopping centre that can provide grocery shops, pharmacy, restaurant, playground and even the cinema latest movies. One shop for all our needs.
Mall of Gambia and Kairaba Shopping Centre are a few of the biggest shops in town, but there’s still a lot of room in Gambia’s retail market. You will probably understand me when you visit Shoprite in Lagos or Accra Mall in Ghana.
As at the time of writing this article, Sahel Invest is developing Senegambia Industrial Estate and Business Park. We hope that will come to our aid.
4. Smiling Coast of Africa – Fashion & Beauty
Gambia fashion industry continues to grow, this might be because our tradition is still heavily embraced by both the Gambians in the diaspora, tourist and the locals and the designers are also continuously in tune with the market.
With the annual events like Fashion Weekend Gambia and now On Gambia, there is a strong sign that the Gambia is making a beautiful mark in the growth of African fashion. The highly young population of the country provides a ready market for trendy growth in this industry.
If you check the trend, both locally made and imported designer labels have become hot-selling products among Gambia’s expanding Greater Banjul area.
I’ll share a few rising stars who are building successful businesses in the fashion and beauty industry in the Gambia.
- Modou Jobe of Sawallo Couture – With its professional tailors and designers in the ateliers, Sawallo Couture is one of the successful fashion shops in the Gambia. Located along Kairaba Avenue, Sawallo Couture offers the latest products in the form of outfits for both Women and men, textiles and other crafty handmade African items.
- Daraja – Daraja.com is an online store that offers a mix of items ranging from leather bags, crafts & accessories all handmade and produced in The Gambia. The firm use technology to accept orders and deliver to your step, anywhere in the world.
- Aji Kumba Daffeh is another inspiring Gambian entrepreneur who has built a successful business with her luxury label, Tresor Closet & Beyond. Her growing business has opened stores in USA and Senegal. Kumba’s success can be explained by what she does on Facebook; empowering others.
- Ndey Fatou Ceesay (NFC)– Formerly branded as Noir, Ndey Fatou Ceesay has made quite impact in The Gambia fashion industry. Founded by creative director Ndeyfatou Ceesay, Noir is a clear indication that the Gambia has marvellous and creative designers. She has participated in the African Fashion Week London, a great step in promoting the nation’s fashion and designers industry.
- Lena Grey-Johnson and her team at Fashion Weekend Gambia have developed a creative and innovative platform for emerging designers in the Gambian. This was an initial stepping stone successful brands like NFC (formerly Noir), StartFit etc.
The list of promising entrepreneurs who are building successful businesses in the Gambia fashion industry is quite impressive. This is yet another industry with many investment opportunities particularly if the industry players can collaborate.
6. Internet & Technology in the Gambia
Without any doubt, Gambia has registered many successful entrepreneurs in the technology industry and the sector continues to grow but at a slow pace. As we live in a world of technology, there are many internet technology investment opportunities in every part of the world.
Entrepreneurs and investors should be prepared to invest in technology for Gambians to enjoy the long-awaited services. We need more developers, thinkers, and financiers to solve some of our social issues. In addition, technology can provide employment for many young people if the policy directions of the government are encouraging.
Let first discussed a few names that have recorded some achievements in the industry.
- The QuantumNET Group – Comprises of QuantumNET Digital, QCell the GSM company, QuantumNET Institute of Technology and Espace Motors. The company became the premium partners of Dell, HP, IBM, Lexmark, Sony & NOKIA. With the acquisition of Digital Planet, QNET occupied a greater market share in the electronic goods market. In 2010 – 2011, QuantumNET became Samsung’s (the world leader in consumer electronics) exclusive authorized distributor in The Gambia. QuantuNet started a technology training institute and then to an internet service provider.
- Unique Solution – Papa Njie and his team – An Internet Service Provider and technology company that started in April 2000. Their products & Services includes VPN, Storage Solutions, Website Development, Web hosting, Software Solutions, etc. In partnership with Central Bank of the Gambia and Interswitch, Unique Solutions created the first national electronic payment system for the Gambia under the company GAMSWITCH. The winner of National SME of the Year in 2008 (GCCI business awards) and Africa Entrepreneurship Awards in 2011.
- Lasting Solutions Company Ltd. – One of the most innovative and reliable ICT companies in the Gambia. With vast experience in networking, network security, telecommunications and Internet technologies, Lasting Solutions also provide numbers of internationally recognized courses. GCCI’s Enterprise of the Year award 2011 went to Lasting Solutions.
These companies are doing well, but we still lack many technology facilities in the country. How many Gambian firms can easily sell their products via online using the local currency (Dalasi)? Which application allows Gambians to buy mobile recharge credit, pay bills, make an instant local transfer, etc., without going to the bank or the vendor?
Apart from social media, many Gambians are not enjoying the benefits of smartphones. They need to install locally based applications that can make their life smarter.
7. The Green Revolution
Due to the threats of climate change around the globe, any solution that can preserve our natural environment by reducing waste or promotes the reuse and recycling can be a huge investment opportunity in the Gambia too.
Many countries, including Gambia and Senegal, have taken policy direction toward implementing clean environment. In April 2015, The Gambia government banned the importation and use of plastic bags in the country, and the Senegalese National assembly has also enacted a similar law in the same month. Gambian entrepreneurs and startups should closely make use of these new laws as a business opportunity to invest in eco-friendly brands.
In 2015, MBA Paper Bag Company was set up by three young people. The firm manufactures paper bags mainly from Kraft paper. These include shopping bags, lunch bags, pharmacy bags, food service bags, and money bags. The products can be tailored to the customers’ needs.
Think about wind power, solar energy, and green business ideas. Green Revolution will definitely be an interesting industry to consider. In addition, due to the rapid population growth of the country, the demand for energy has outstripped the ability of the NAWEC, state-owned utility to supply the country. This led my discussion to the next investment opportunity, energy sector.
8. Energy Sector investment opportunities
According to the Gambia SE4ALL investment prospectus 2015, Gambia’s electricity prices are among the highest in the world, which makes the use of alternative energy sources such as bio-diesel, steam, solar and the wind increasingly attractive in an increasing number of cases. Furthermore, both the government and NAWEC have recognized a high demand and weakness in the transmission and distribution network.
Renewable energy represents an area of tremendous opportunity for The Gambia. Investment opportunities that exist for renewable energy resources include:
- utility-scale power generation in urban and peri-urban set-ups;
- mini-grid or off-grid solutions in remote and rural areas;
- non-electric applications such as solar drying and efficient and clean cooking.
9. Television and radio services
Gambia has only one television station, the state-owned Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS). It broadcast various programs in English and local languages. However, you will agree with me that the national TV station can hardly meet the diverse entertainment and educational needs of the youthful population. Young people need television stations that air celebrity trends, sport, independent experts discussing the impact of new government policies, etc. Think of a private TV station that will focus on promoting Gambian fashion, movies, etc.
10. Light Manufacturing
Gambia’s manufacturing sector is under-exploited, and most of the present players are mainly medium-sized enterprises located primarily in the urban. The sector’s share of GDP is very low thus forming the basis of opportunity for investment in other to expand industrial production and development.
There is potential for processing and value-adding to fruits and vegetables for the export and domestic market. About 80% of Gambia’s total export actually relates to re-export. Imagine if the Gambia could manufacture re-exported goods locally.
Many agricultural products are also wasted due to lack of adequate storage facilities and limited value-adding opportunities. A potential investor could set processing facilities for products such as tomato, fish, groundnut, etc for domestic consumption or export.
- Momarr Mass Taal, one of the Gambia’s youngest and successful entrepreneurs, is currently making it in value adding manufacturing sector. Taal found out that most local farmers experience market access problems then he set up a firm, Tropingo Foods. The firm process groundnut and mango for export. In 2015, the firm made over $1.6 million in sales and that is one of the reasons he appeared on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 for 2016.
Well, these are the 10 sectors with investment opportunities in the Gambia. However, more will surface as the new government announced their policies and strategies.
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