24-year-old Sulayman Sanyang.

Sulayman’s Journey towards Financial Inclusion and Growth

Awa Jagne, UNCDF

As you approach the compound in Brikama, you immediately smell the familiar scent of soap cooking in a big pot and can witness a busy entrepreneur multitasking, preparing for his next batch of jams. Sulayman Sanyang, a 24-year-old native of Jarra Jiffin in the Lower River Region, now resides in Brikama, the main metropolitan area on West Coast of The Gambia. He is the family’s sole income provider and has been sending money to his parents in Jara for over five years as a house painter before he started his new business.

Since a young age, Sulayman had harboured a strong desire to be an entrepreneur. This ambition led him to participate in an intensive two-month theory and practical training to enhance his business development and financial skills under the Jobs, Skills and Finance for Women and Youth (JSF) Programme funded by European Union (EU). JFS Programme uses a market systems approach to support the development of targeted financial services and products for women and youth. In doing so, it facilitates the social inclusion and employment of youth and women, with a specific focus on promoting access to finance.

Sulayman learned how to process fruits, vegetables, cereals, and nuts, as well as make pepper, sauce, jams, and a range of local juices from tamarind, mango juice, baobab, orange to pineapple juice. This was followed by on-the-job training from June to July of the same year. The on-the-job training taught him how to package and process dried fruits, improve his financial earnings, open a bank account, and even train other youths in his village. Through this initiative, Sulayman started his own business and successfully registered on Afrijula, a Gambian digital e-commerce platform which allows businesses to showcase their products.

Insist Global developed Afrijula in partnership with UNCDF in the Gambia as a tool for micro and small enterprises with low literacy skills. The simple platform design allows them to manage the mismatch between their income and expenses and generate financial statements without needing to employ an accountant to prepare these. The platform is integrated with an e-commerce platform, and a financing component where financial service providers can access real-time information on the financial health of the applicant, making it easier for them to provide loans.

“With the training, I learned what to do, as I could physically see and experience everything. I can now process my own products and train youths in the village and I have also participated in several major food fairs since 2021. As my business started to grow, I decided to use Afrijula for my bookkeeping and that further helped me gain access to digital finance.”

At UNCDF, financial inclusion expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economies. Through this initiative, Sulayman has now diversified his income and achieved financial inclusion through his newly established enterprise called ‘Mr. Moringa Horticultural Enterprise’. Leveraging the skills acquired from the JSF programme, his new business involves the processing and resale of Moringa seed oil, moringa leaf oil, peperinga (pepper), dugula (soybean flour) and moringa soap.

Sulayman pouring soap into soap moulds.

“It’s the technical skills that really stood out to me. I was able to gain insights on how to start my business in an environmentally conscious manner,” says Sulayman.

The simple digital tool has helped Sulayman manage his business and access finance. In the process, he is expanding his sources of revenue and ensuring financial stability that prevents him from falling into poverty. Through JSF, UNCDF is supporting the youth in forging their path in the digital economy in The Gambia.


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