By Kebba Mamburay
The Mayor of KMC, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, yesterday told Foroyaa that his-led council has generated a sum of one hundred million dalasi (D100, 000, 000. 00) for women “Kaffos” (groups) within Kanifing Municipality.
Mayor Bensouda said the D100 million project was initiated by Ms. Binneh Marong, Women Councilor, who about 2 years ago went out looking for funds from micro-finance agencies in order to support women especially those that are facing financial difficulties to establish a business.
Bensouda said despite the usual tedious bureaucratic processes from micro-finance agencies, Ms. Marong was able to secure the sum of D100 million, a revolving fund to support women groups.
He said the funds are not for individuals but for women groups (“Kaffos”) who are registered and have formally observed appointees to run the affairs of their groups. KMC Mayor also said the youth counselor, Kemo Bojang, copied the same model for the youth partnering with Supersonic.
“Funds do exist but the problem usually is the barrier to access. So they use their positions as councilors to remove the barriers to access funds for the various economic activities of women and youth,” he said.
Mayor Bensouda said the funds were difficult to get due to the processes required and the guaranties the financers want. But, he said, the two initiators pushed harder for access to these monies to be smooth.
The Mayor added that D40 million was already disbursed in the form of loan to women before the COVID pandemic in order to support women that were going through difficulties.
Speaking further, he said the funds are purposely for those that wish to venture into business newly and not for established businesswomen. He said there is a committee responsible for vetting the qualification of applicants and whosoever is qualified would be given the money which is based on the need of the applicant.
But there is no fixed amount for applicants. The tenure and the subjectivity of the applicant too matters, he added.
Bensouda further stated that women in business, especially those selling produce, do face a lot of losses due to spoilage. He said on that note, his-led council is trying to expand cold storage facilities in all markets across KM.
He said: “There would be new markets across the municipality to create space for vendors and women will be given priority as well as people of disability.”
“Also, we are planning to expand the Bakoteh Fish market as well. That will be directly through the council, not under PPP. Recently, we’ve been upgrading all our markets because the Bakau market is under rehabilitation, Latrikunda market has just been rehabilitated and will be opened this week. Tallinding market has been demolished and is being rebuilt from the ground up. So markets are our main priority because we know this is where most women earn their living and we intend to make sure the environment is conducive,” he said.