Ebrima S. Dem founded Gambia’s most popular job-search website, Gamjobs.com. He also co-founded in Spain the GAC – Gambia Association in Catalonia, a migrant support system.
His interview with Pleasures Magazine:
Would you please introduce GAMJOBS?
GAMJOBS is an online advertisement, job listing and marketing firm registered in the Gambia in October 2014. It is the country’s first and most popular social job website, effectively connecting job providers to job seekers. It also offers local companies, even those without websites, the opportunity to promote their business, products and services online.
In which industries does GAMJOBS operate and who are your clients?
GAMJOBS operates as an ICT and mobile technology start-up. We are into online marketing, product branding, mobile SMS campaigns, and Human Resources support services such as job listing, career advice and job placement. We also offer consulting services to recruiters and employers on how to attract, hire and retain staff.
Our clients, first and foremost are job seekers, who are professionals in their own right but lack the visibility needed to realize their dream job. GAMJOBS help these people present their skills and competencies in a way that would make them more marketable. We also work with numerous companies of various sectors supporting their efforts in recruiting the rights candidates or making their businesses visible online. These companies include banks, real estate agencies, research institutions, government departments, NGOs and small business such as carpentry, welding and tailoring shops.
What are the USP’s of your business?
At the moment our USP is building trust and raising awareness on why the internet and mobile technology are better alternatives for selling, advertising and marketing businesses. We are therefore investing a lot of time and energy on these through social media, flyers, radios and other forms of communication. It may take a while to bring about a change in mindset but we gradually are moving towards that end.
GAMJOBS’ objective is to make the process of advertising, searching and finding jobs easier, affordable and accessible even in most remote areas of the Gambia, while at the time supporting SMEs to grow their business using the internet.
Why did you start GAMJOBS?
Quite simply because I became convinced of the need to improve accessibility to job information in Gambia. I was also motivated to help employers to recruit staff easily and for local small businesses to also benefit from the online opportunities. Before GAMJOBS, it was daunting task for any company in the country to reach out to a large audience. Apart from newspapers, which were either too expensive or not available in some areas, there were few other options for businesses to spread the word out.
Currently many Gambians own mobile phones. And many have 3G internet access. Thus by having this social job website Gamjobs.com, I hope people both in urban and rural Gambia, and even those in the diaspora can apply for jobs of their choice, view and buy products and services online.
Another reason was to bridge the information gap and connect people more easily. Having worked for many years in social rights campaigning, community mobilization and humanitarian work, I leaned that people better understand each other when they are better connected. Also during this period, there were times I came across some vacancies that would have been perfect for many (qualified) Gambians, but these jobs were advertised on foreign websites, and the Gambian people were out of the loop. GAMJOBS was a solution to this.
What other companies/organizations/activities have you founded?
I have created a few non-profit projects, campaigns and organizations both within and outside of the Gambia. Key among them is Global Unification, The Gambia, which I started in June 2006 as a youth-led research organization that engages local communities, mainly youths and women in social rights advocacies, environmental protection and sustainable development. In 2009, I founded the WIFE project (Women’s Initiative for Education and Empowerment) that works with over 300 rural women in Agriculture entrepreneurship and training. This year we are developing a mobile app and ecommerce website that that will connect these rural farmers to urban buyers of the Gambia.
In Spain, I co-founded the Gambia Association in Catalonia (GAC) that supports migrants in adapting to new life in Catalonia and acquire skills that would improve their employability and access to job opportunities. I also co-founded the Association Anda Ak Afrika (meaning walk with Africa in Wolof, one of Gambia’s local languages) that is helping to build a primary school in Gambia.
What can be done by entrepreneurs and government to stimulate the business environment in Gambia?
Entrepreneurship is still a young concept in the Gambia; the numbers of people venturing into business in the country is quite low, compared to other countries like Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda or South Africa. This, I think, could be as a result of a number of factors such as the low level knowledge in entrepreneurship skills, lack of initiatives, lack of capital, worries about failures or simply lack of interest and drive for business management. To change this, I think people first need to motivate their own selves. Following that, access to continued mentorship, capital as well as training to run businesses. The government has a bigger role to play in building the capacity of would-be entrepreneurs and supporting them at every stage of the business cycle. Also softer tax laws on small and new businesses would be helpful, to allow them enough time to grow.
What could be attractive about doing business in Gambia today?
Gambia is a small country; we do not have the large and relatively stable economies like Nigeria and Senegal for example. However, the beautiful part of doing business here is that there is less competition. You can easily grab a niche in the market and dominate. There are also lot of un-tapped business ideas and unmet needs that investors can consider.
Do you think women entrepreneurs typically have a harder time accessing loans through traditional bank channels?
Access to loans from banks for entrepreneurs, women in particular, is difficult. Apart from high interest charges, all banks require collateral. The banks often ask for lease house in urban areas as collateral, which many entrepreneurs don’t have. Besides, the land tenure system (in Gambia) where land is inherited through patriarchal line is not helpful women either.
What can you say about the targets, plans and ambitions of GAMJOBS for the rest of 2015?
Our 2015 goal is to register at least 10000 CVs, work with 500 employers and advertise at least 7000 vacancies, products and services by the end of the year. Overall, we want to triple our membership and user base this year. By mid-2016, we hope to extend to at least two more countries in West Africa and to 5 more by the end of 2017.
Do you believe Social Media and the Internet to be a plus to the business environment, as it applies to your industry?
Considering the number of people using the internet, the social media is one of most indispensable tools to raise visibility and bring about success for any business. And I am glad that we at GAMJOBS have realized this and are working hard in creating a niche for our social media presence.
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