Growing up, Isatou Mboge has always had a passion for cooking. Her dream was to one day start a business to prepare and sell healthy, delicious food while earning a decent living. In pursuit of this dream, Isatou enrolled at the Gambia college in 2019 to study catering. At college, she was exposed to both theoretical and practical components of food preparation.
Her education at the Gambia college gave her a foundation to build the rest of her journey. Upon completion of college education, Isatou came across an opportunity the International Trade Centre provided under its European Union-funded Jobs, Skills, and Finance Programme.
ITC (International Trade Centre) Jobs, Skills and Finance (JSF) for Women and Youth focuses on improving the relevance, effectiveness, and accessibility of vocational and technical training and other market-led skills training to enhance employability and job creation.
Isatou applied and was enrolled to study a 9-month programme on agro-food processing. The training helped her to gain practical skills in food processing and entrepreneurship, which ultimately paved the path for her to achieve her childhood dream.
Reflecting on the impact of the training on her business, Isatou, with a smile, says: “The training was very helpful.” She continued: “I learned all the skills in food processing and preservation methods. I was introduced to food safety and how to prepare, process and store food.”
During the training, Isatou and her colleagues got the opportunity to learn from experienced facilitators and build a strong network among themselves. “I was able to meet and build a network with other young people with the same ambition as me. This enabled me to learn from them, too.”
The training programme was further complemented by a business coaching and start-up support scheme to enable Isatou and the other young people to start and run their businesses. Business coaches play a crucial role in supporting young entrepreneurs to find a strong foot in the field of entrepreneurship.
As potential entrepreneurs, getting coaches by their sides give young people an insight into the business world, which, to an extent, widen their knowledge of starting and managing a business. Isatou`s coach supported her in her entrepreneurial journey.
She got the chance to be offered technical guidance and advice. “The coach was helpful,” Isatou shared. “My coach helped me develop a strong business plan and offered advice on business management and how to start my business.”
After successfully completing her training and coaching programme, Isatou wanted to start her business, but getting the start-up capital to buy materials proved very difficult. She needed to be in a more robust financial standing at the time to purchase raw materials to start production. Not only that, but the assets were also not there, too. “I wanted to start my business because I have the skills and received coaching, but buying the materials was very difficult because they were expensive.”
In 2023, the project supported Isatou with start-up materials: a gas cooker, microwave, blenders, glass cups, bowls, cooking pot, environmentally friendly cooking stoves, fridge and more. Isatou shared: “These materials helped me start my business. I now have a business called Idelious Food Processing and Catering Services. I now earn a decent income through the business to take care of my needs.”
Isatou`s business is growing. She participated in the last edition of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Trade Fair Gambia International – The Gambia’s biggest trade show – to earn more income, give more visibility to her business and expand her network.
Training programme complemented by coaching and start-up support is a gateway to helping young entrepreneurs realise their goals and achieve their dreams.
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