Mrs. Ida Saine-Conteh and Graduates
By Ramatoulie Jawo
Ida’s Ideas Fashion and Design Training Institute on Saturday, February 25th, 2023, held a graduation ceremony for the second cohort of seventeen students who successfully completed a two-year intensive course in fashion design at the Centre.
This marked the 2nd graduation ceremony of the fashion institute, and the event was graced by entrepreneurs, government officials, motivational speakers, parents, and friends of the graduating students.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chan Mendy, Principal and Managing Director of Ida’s Ideas Fashion and Design Training Institute, said the fashion design industry in the Gambia has increasingly grown in terms of knowledge, education, awareness of strength and creativity among others in the past 3 years.
She said the Gambia is playing catch up when it comes to competing with international standards, but she is hopeful that with the right education, support and determination, the existing barriers will be broken.
“We are still left behind when it comes to competing with international standards, branding and export. We definitely have a long way to go. But with the right support, determination, education, employment, and hard work. We will break those barriers,” she said.
Mendy emphasized the role of women in society and stressed the need for their empowerment through skills training.
“Development in the Gambia or globally cannot take place without the production and participation of women. That participation can happen meaningfully when our women and girls are empowered with the required skills to become productive in society” she stated.
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The principal went on to congratulate the graduating students and advised them to make use of the experiences, skills, and education they have gathered during their studies and training at the institute.
Abdoulie Touray, one of the Guest Speakers, urged the graduating students to take diligent care of their customers through good customer service delivery. He advises them to be ethical in anything they are doing regarding their businesses.
Mr. Touray disclosed that his organization has come up with an endowment fund to empower graduates, and people who are not financially secure, to study at the institute (Ida’s Ideas).
“Once you graduate, you have to have a changed mentality. We are saying that if you go to Ida’s, she will give you a Certificate of character. She believes that you will make it. You go and identify a sewing machine and bring it. Ida will give you a grant of 50℅ of the amount,” he said.
The Lord Mayor of Kanifing Municipality, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, said Gambia needs a productive sector to grow the economy to be a wealthy nation. He encouraged the graduating students to look up to the Founder of Ida’s Ideas, Ida Saine-Conteh. He said she is an inspiration to all of them.
“The school is within our Municipality. We have been helping people in the tailoring sector. Recently, we donated about 30 sewing machines to various youths like you, the graduates. We have a loan with the youth empowerment program to develop a Nine Million dalasis (D9,000,000.00) skills Centre in Bakoteh with a lot of sewing equipment and Aunty Ida is part of the board.
“KMC under my leadership will dedicate ten thousand dalasis (D10,000.00) to each of you to help you buy your first sewing machine. It is not a gift, but it is our obligation to support youth like yourselves,” Mayor Bensouda promised.
Mayor Bensouda urged the public to support and showcase the talent of young people.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Bakary Y. Badjie congratulated the graduating students and promised to join Mr. Abdoulie Touray to add an extra 25℅ for the graduates to be able them to buy machines for themselves.
“What you need now is to go out and look for the remaining 25℅ for yourself so that you can have machines and start work. We are doing this as part of the entrepreneurship program,” he said.
Other speakers included the Minister of Gender Children and Social Welfare, Hon. Fatou Kinteh talked about the importance of women’s empowerment.
“In the Gambia, as in many countries, we the women form 52℅of the population. If you don’t empower us, we cannot achieve and sustain socio-economic development in the country,” she said.
Hon. Kinteh encouraged the graduating students to be more dedicated, focused and committed because the industry they are getting into is of enormous interest to everyone.
Speaking on behalf of the graduates, Salimata Kuyateh said the values of Ida’s Ideas Fashion and Design Institute filled them up with so much confidence and that they can readily take on any challenge.