In post-Jammeh Gambia, entrepreneurs thrive in a business-friendly climate

On Saturday, Gambians head to the polls to vote for their president. Five years have passed since Adama Burrow, the outgoing leader, ended 22 years of dictatorship by defeating Yahya Jammeh at the polls. The democratic transition has changed the lives of entrepreneurs, and many of those who had left have now returned to participate in post-Jammeh development. Sarah Sakho, Elimane Ndao and Emmanuelle Landais report.

It is 1 in the afternoon. Fatumata Njie and her team can finally start their “Made in the Gambia” tea production. But work in the small processing plant is not without its obstacles.

“The light has returned, we can start. We will work until 5 in the afternoon,” he says beaming. The 29-year-old entrepreneur started her business after returning to the Gambia from Benin after Jammeh fell.

“I am happy! I can say that since I started, things are going in the right direction. The business is not stopping. People really appreciate what I do and also enjoy drinking my teas.”

Njie now employs about 20 young people.

“The dictatorship used to be too much. You would sit and hear that someone had just been arrested. Now you can go out freely, do whatever you want. Nobody bothers you.”

For Lamine Makalo, the company’s accountant, the company’s success is a blessing. “It really saved my life. In 2016 I was desperate, I wanted to emigrate at all costs. Thanks to the director and the growth of the company, I am doing well. Today I am proud to say that I am doing something for my country,” he says.

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