Gender committee members and representatives from various pressure groups
By Ramatoulie Jawo
On Monday, November 6, 2023, the National Assembly Select Committee on Gender, Children, and Social Welfare conducted a social audit in Banjul to engage the women’s pressure groups known as “Kafos” on the Women Enterprise Fund.
The primary objective of this social audit is to collect firsthand information concerning the distribution, recoveries, impact, and challenges associated with the Women Enterprise Fund. The insights gathered during this engagement will enable the committee to compile a comprehensive report and provide recommendations for implementation by the executive ministry.
During their discussions with the Banjul-based women’s pressure groups (Kafos), the women raised several challenges they are currently confronting. They expressed concerns about the short grace period and repayment terms, as well as the perceived inadequacy of the funds provided to them.
The women from the Kafos recommended an increase in the fund amount to D1 million Dalasis, with a one-year grace period and a one-year repayment period to address these issues.
The Women’s pressure groups (Kafos) in Banjul were granted loans with an interest rate of 5%, repayable within one year. The repayment terms included a six-month grace period followed by a six-month repayment period.
Various Kafos in Banjul received different loan amounts, as follows: Aja Makamba Jammeh Kafo, Team Rohey Malick Lowe Kafo, West Africa Women Association, Hamza Barrack Women Association, Bundung Jee Society Kafo, Boka Yakseh Kafo, Bolo Anda Japeh Jegeb Yi Kafo received D100,000 each, while ECOWAS Federation Gambia received D200,000, and Mighty Diamond Kafo received D150,000.
The committee found that some pressure groups (Kafos) in Banjul have successfully adhered to their repayment terms, while others still face challenges in making payments.
Fatou Dampha, the representative from the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare, urged the Kafos to ensure timely loan repayments and emphasized the importance of responsible loan management for future support.
“You know if we give you loans, and you pay them back within the said duration, it will make things easy for you because whenever you need another load, the ministry will give it out to you, or we link you with people who help women in loads for them to work.”
Honorable Sulayman Saho, a committee member, encouraged the Kafos to set an example for other women’s groups by meeting their loan repayment obligations. He stressed that the successful repayment of loans is essential for empowering women in Banjul and other regions.
“ You should try and pay the load because everyone used to take loans, but you have placed your mechanisms to play those loads if not to have another load will be difficult, so if women in Banjul are not paying their loads or other regions, it will affect the country. Because if women are empowered, it’s like you empowered the men, so if you guys pay the loads, other regions will also benefit from it,” he said.
The Ministry informed the Committee that all Kafos underwent training on the proper utilization and investment of the requested loans, as well as the repayment process.
Regarding loan applications, the committee was informed that applications are processed through regional loan officers under the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Welfare. They assured that there were no issues related to corruption or mismanagement of the funds, as transactions were handled directly with banks.
The Women Enterprise Fund was established by the Women Enterprise Fund Act, enacted by the National Assembly on September 24, 2020. Its purpose is to promote and support women’s enterprises, create self-employment opportunities for women, and foster their economic empowerment.