By: Kebba AF Touray
The Enterprise Development Officer at the Gender Ministry, Fatou F Dampha has reported that the total outstanding repayment balance of the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) as at August 2023 stood at twelve million nine hundred and forty-two thousand one hundred and nine dalasi and twenty-six bututs (D12, 942,109.26).
She reported this on Monday, November 6, 2023 during the just concluded public hearing conducted by the Gender committee of the National Assembly supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI).
The hearing aimed to discuss and engage the women groups (Kafos) who have benefited loans from the fund, what their challenges are and what can be done to move forward.
She said: “As at August 2023, the total outstanding repayment balance of WEF stood at D12, 942,109.26 and we disbursed a total of D62 million from the fund to 620 women groups. If the groups that took loans pay their loans fully, we will look towards supporting other women groups from the fund.”
Some of the women groups that have benefited from the fund so far include but not limited to groups such as WAWA, ECOWAS Women Group, RoheyMalick Lowe, Aja MakambaJammeh group, Hamza Barrack Women Group.
Dampha added that the objective of the fund is to create, promote and grow enterprises, to create women self-employment and enhance job creation for women.
Some of the groups such as Aja MakambaJammeh, RoheyMalick Lowe Kafo, WAWA, BundungJegg Society Kafo and BokaYakarr each received a loan of D100,000 from the fund, whilst the ECOWAS Federation received D200,000.
She told the Gender committee that recoveries of the loans disbursed to the women groups is their major challenge, and that without it extending the support to other groups will be a daunting task.
During the interface with the groups both in Banjul and KM, they lamented short grace period and low amount of loan, urging the Ministry to consider increasing the loan to D1 million, with a longer grace period.
The groups also recommended the Ministry to consider giving the loan to the groups from the fund in the form of products instead of loan in raw cash, to help expand their businesses. With this, they noted, they will be able to repay their loans with ease.
Earlier, the committee informed the women groups in attendance that the engagement was to identify the challenges confronting the groups as per the fund especially in terms of repayments of their loans and what the groups think is the way forward.
After the hearings, the committee is expected to prepare and develop a comprehensive report on the fund and table it before the plenary for scrutiny, consideration and adoption, which will thereafter be shared with the relevant authorities.