Building Resilient Communities

In 2021 UNDP through the Rapid Finance Facility provided a Low Value Grant to Sayoo Anin Tesito, a women's group in Kwinella, LRR

October 18, 2022

Executive members of Sayoo Anin Tesito Women’s Group pose with UNDP RFF Project Manager, Ms. Amie Khan

Photo: Rohey Samba-Jallow

85 women from Kwinella village in the Lower River Region of The Gambia came together to form the Sayoo Anin Tesito Women’s Group. This group was supported by the UNDP through its Rapid Finance Facility in the form of a Low Value Grant (LVG) in 2021 . Erstwhile dependent on tourism, the purpose of the grant was to provide an alternative source of livelihood for a community reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSMEs as the engine for growth

Two critical priorities for economic growth identified by the June 2020 rapid assessment commissioned by UNDP on the impact of Covid-19, were MSMEs as the engine for growth and already vulnerable groups such as women, youth, people with PWDs etc. Women who are primarily engaged in trading and entrepreneurship faced big challenges in securing funding, accessing land and sustainable livelihoods. Without effective social safety net systems in place, the Covid-19 pandemic led to a general loss of income for communities who were heavily reliant on tourism including the Sayoo Anin Tesito Women’s Group.

Sayoo Anin Tesito small corner shop where they sell essential food items

Photo: Rohey Samba-Jallow

The Sayoo Anin Tesito Women’s Group was supported in training on skills development such as tie and dye, laundering and soap making, digital literacy and business advisory services among others. As a result of the intervention, the community established a consumer shop with the proceeds from the sale of the goods made from the support provided. They now have enough resources to buy goods for the shop and save money to venture into subsistence farming.

Bringing access, hope and dignity to the people who need it

Theirs is a story we hear too often from women in general but most especially rural women. The pursuit of self-improvement and empowerment, and the needs of theirs and their families not being fulfilled with the meagre resources they possess drove the women to establish a group to pool their resources together to support each other. By contributing cash to implement a community based social protection initiative through a joint venture, the women constituted their own micro-credit facility to support each other with soft loans at minimal interest with more generous repayment terms.

Thus, according to them, the LVG came at an appropriate time and has enabled them to establish a small corner shop where they sell essential food items. They also boast of a colored printer where the community can print their documents for a small fee.  According to the group, residents of Kwinella needed to travel 15 miles to Soma to have their articles printed.

Also procured was a taxi-baggage, a vehicle for hire of goods, which also serves the lumo market. Due to its strategic location, the taxi has a lot of benefits but some drawbacks too. During our conversations with them, some were of the view that they could perhaps sell the van and use it to start fencing the community garden with some suggesting that they could use it to transport passengers to and from Kwinella.

Assessing their achievements, the Public Relations officer of the Group, Fatou Sanneh noted that they are looking to diversify into agriculture and natural resource management. Focusing on the task for the long term, Fatou explained,

“We wish to venture into gardening from the profits we make from our entrepreneurial activities. We want to use our profits to revive the abandoned Kwinella community farm, which is owned by the whole community. Nowadays, nobody is using it because the wells have dried up and there is no fencing of the garden’s perimeter to guard against intrusion by outsiders and domestic animals.”

The scheme envisaged will provide another safety net and protect and empower the women financially. Moreover, it will assist their business by providing them with an alternative market source.