Inspired by discussions at the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Global event in Liverpool in 2018, Naffie Barry and Beatrice Mboge from the Gambia began brainstorming about creating a dedicated chamber of commerce for women. While many national organizations exist to champion women’s empowerment, none were dedicated to creating a network to guide women on their business journey, which is the mission of the now established Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
With support from the International Trade Centre and the wider SheTrades network, the Chamber managed to increase their membership to almost 200 women in the last few years.
“We are proud that our women are so motivated. People do not ask us anymore what the benefits of the Chamber are. People are calling us and wanting to join,” says Beatrice Mboge, CEO of the Gambia Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
In collaboration with SheTrades Gambia, the Women’s Chamber has increased its offering to its members to include a broad range of services: from organizing a women’s pavilion at a national trade fair, convening business-to-business (B2B) meetings, to providing digital literacy trainings and coaching on business plans or strategy development.
“The B2B meetings organized by the Women’s Chamber and SheTrades helped us women entrepreneurs to connect with each other,” explains Ellen Sain, Owner of Ecomax and member of the Chamber. “We now know which members produce certain products and are able to connect and trade between ourselves. The broad network has helped our businesses to expand. The Women’s Chamber does not only provide trainings; the organization is the backbone for us women entrepreneurs in the Gambia.”
The institutional strengthening support received through the SheTrades Gambia project boosted the organization, for example by facilitating an accounts’ audit and developing a women vendors’ directory.
The OPEC Fund for International Development and the Enhanced Integrated Framework are funding the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Gambia project.