By Blossom Charity Ukoha
According to Michelle Obama, “there is no magic to achievement, it’s really about hard work, choice and persistence.”
With hard work and persistence, Gambian women are speedily expunging the belief that has held them bond for decades. Many have beaten the odds by becoming entrepreneurs thereby gaining access to financial opportunities and freedom, improving their life, and maximizing profit.
Female entrepreneurs are women who do not only think of a business enterprise but initiate and organize it with the combination of factors of production, operating the enterprise and undertaking risks; and handling economic uncertainty involved in running it.
According to reports from the last five years, the Gambia business industry has witnessed a tremendous shift in business style, models, and delivery. What is more impressive is that the Gambian women are at the forefront of making these changes.
Gambian women taking up the business space is not something new; women doing petty businesses for a source of living have been in the Gambia for as long as one can remember.
Most of them concentrate on enterprises such as tie-dyeing, soap-making, beauty salons, sewing and textiles, catering services, fashion designing, and consultation with some women also engaging in horticulture.
These enterprises provide enough income to improve their lives. But the benefits are not merely financial – women entrepreneurs become more assertive and are seen as the sole providers for their families. The income generated from these businesses not only helps to sustain its smooth running but also helps pay for the education of their children and to support other family members.
African Leadership Magazine takes a glance at some hardworking and fearless Gambian women that have fought tooth and nail to be where they are today.
Lilian Azizi – CEO Afriqcars Motors
She is the founder and CEO of Ariqcars motors, a one-stop transportation company in The Gambia. A young woman in a male-dominated business, she stays on top of the game by standing out from the crowd through quality products, best customer services, conducive office environment for her clients and employees. Africa can be rated as number one in the Gambia at the moment and to achieve this, it took six good years of consistent hard work of the entire team and excellent service delivery.
Binta’s designs are one of the finest from the smiling coast, worn by many in the Gambia and beyond, including celebrities.
Binta is the founder of CuT N Fit tailoring, a business that designs and tailors up to date African outfits in a never-seen way. Before her tailoring adventure, Binta travelled to Senegal to buy goods that she resells in the Gambia.
Mina Jallow is the founder of Chop Shop. It went from just a restaurant to a food factory, supplying major Gambian supermarkets with seasoned foods such as chicken.
Chop Shop is a Gambian-owned restaurant offering exceptional services in food. Been a woman in a male-dominated field in the Gambia. Jallow is an award-winning entrepreneur who unapologetically promotes women empowerment through her business. She intentionally creates an “employment strategy leading to a 90% female workforce.”
Adiatou Conteh is the founder of the Daraja brand, a retail brand that lavages handmade leather bags from the Gambia. Conteh is a Gambian most creative queen who saw a missing gap that needed to be filled in the fashion industry. Bonded by strong creative skills, business ethics and talented local artists from the Gambia, she has taken her space in the business industry.
Jainaba B Ceesay
Jainaba B Ceesay, Gambian native and the founder and CEO of EBROSSO Consulting. She holds an Executive MBA from the Robert H Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is a 17- year leadership, coaching, banking and finance expert and had worked at two major financial institutions in Washington D.C. EBROSSO Consulting is a global management consulting based in the Washington, DC area that supports individuals, small businesses and global organizations to create and execute strategies for success. They help institutions to create an improved organizational design, business processes and strategic plan.
Fatou Coker Singhateh
After leaving the cooperative job to commit to her family fully, Coker started TJ Fashion in 2003. Today, she is the CEO of TJ Fashion and Lady Fanta bakery in the Gambia.
A family commitment resulted in bigger adventures for Fatou Coker, leading her to create TJ music, and become a registered music promoter in New York City, Atlanta, and Texas.
She used her promotion company to promote African culture and music in the U.S through events and music concerts.
She is the sole founder and CEO of IC Business Solutions. A consulting firm that provides tax, accounting, finance, software implementation, training, and other business advisory services. She has amassed a wealth of experience in corporate finance, banking, capital raising, strategic management, marketing strategy, taxation, accounting, and project management.
Isatou has worked in the USA for over 15 years including World Pay US, where she served as a Senior Financial Analyst; and American Software as a Senior Revenue Accountant.
Haddy Faye, a Global Goodwill Ambassador is the founder and CEO of Absolute Entertainment, which offers, artists development, artists management, marketing and branding, and promotion.
Absolute Entertainment has put together some of Gambia’s most successful events working with local and international artists. She is also the founder of the Aliamino foil, the first-ever aluminium foil roll. Haddy’s entrepreneurial journey mostly revolve around fashion and entertainment.
Chiinga Musonda and Lynn Musonda Phiri
These two pioneering Zambian entrepreneurs have put the country on the global chocolate map. Chiinga Musonda and Lynn Musonda Phiri are co-founders of Savanna Premium Chocolate, managing the daily operation of the business and do everything from design, marketing, production, sales and many more.
Chita Mumba Zulu
Chita Mumba Zulu is the founder of Eternal Jewellery in Zambia.
The business has made a name for itself – supplying quality, affordable and beautiful jewellery for couples who are planning their wedding celebrations.
We named our company “Eternal Jewellery Zambia” because we believe in a lasting and eternal kind of love that can be expressed and seen through Jewellery.”