With a young population and just a 38 percent literacy rate, vocational skills training and education are key national priorities in the West African nation of The Gambia. Many young Gambians have the false notion that they can succeed only if they go abroad. Many are attracted to quick ways of making money and get caught up in crime and drugs. Because they cannot afford an education, girls are often married to much older men so they can be supported by their husbands.
At their Omega Training Institute (OTI), our partner the Evangelical Church of The Gambia (ECG) provides an opportunity for people to be trained in a vocational skill, equipping them to start sustainable businesses that support their families.
The trainees determine the types of businesses they want to engage in. These businesses have included food stalls, barber shops, bakeries, textile production, and cosmetics shops. Once their business idea is chosen, OTI provides a three-month training course in business administration and computer skills that sets them up for success.
At the end of the program and as funds are available, OTI provides trainees with a micro-credit loan to help them launch their businesses. Trainees are required to submit business proposals before a micro-credit loan is approved. A small percentage of interest is required so that other trainees can benefit in the future.
Throughout the training, the students are exposed to Bible-based teaching and discipleship and are encouraged to take part in student ministries. For Christians, running a small business garners respect and offers an effective platform for friendship building and sharing God's love.
Over the next four years, Partners hopes to provide vocational training and micro-credit loans to 100 people in five regions of The Gambia. Training scholarships and funding for micro-loans are needed.
In addition to the above, Partners hopes to raise funds to construct a permanent facility for training. A new facility would allow for better recruitment and expansion. In addition to ongoing training, the new facility would be used as a marketplace for the sale of goods and services created by the trainees and graduates.
"There is a great need to develop local industries and jobs so that people can make a living without having to leave their families behind for work in another country," said Pastor Malik, ECG's leader. "Please continue to pray that our work will bring about lasting fruit and ongoing transformation in the lives of the people of The Gambia."
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