Result Briefs November 7, 2017

Results: Making Progress in The Gambia’s Tourism and Horticulture Industries


A farmer participating in the Growth & Competitiveness Project.


  • The introduction of an online business registration system reduced cost to register a business significantly and the average time to register reduced from 27 to 3 days.
  • Small scale farmers saw their sales of produce increase by 463% from 2011 to 2015;
  • A hospitality training center trained 1,235 students and helped increase arrivals by tourists from non-traditional markets by 71% between 2011 and 2015.

Washington, November 7, 2017 - Claudette Sarr-Krook was struggling to connect her natural products company in The Gambia with customers. As CEO of Care for Natural, she wanted to increase sales of her locally-produced yogurts, aloe vera, and jam, but had hit a stumbling block.

“We wanted to get our finger on the pulse of the industry in order to better price our products and be more competitive,” said Sarr-Krook. “But doing so required expertise which was simply not available at an affordable cost in The Gambia. We worked with the World Bank Group to professionalize our business and gain credibility in the eyes of potential customers.”

A World Bank Group project completed in 2015, The Growth & Competitiveness Project, aimed to improve the business environment for entrepreneurs like Claudette. The project was funded through a $12 million grant from the International Development Association, the Bank Group’s fund for the poorest countries, and was executed by the Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice.

Sarr-Krook says that as a result of the project, her company benefited from improved quality and predictability from her suppliers. But the company also gained a great deal from the training aspect of the project. As a result, Care for Natural was able to introduce new product labels that included logos, nutritional value, and ingredients; calculate the prices of its products more accurately; develop a marketing system; and forge links with new buyers in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe. Claudette expanded the business, and by the project’s end, Care for Natural had increased its sales from $1.3 million per year to $3.4 million.

“The Growth & Competitiveness Project greatly changed the way we do business,” said Sarr-Krook. “We are able to give potential customers information faster, we gained a better grip on price and cost, our products look better, and our profits are easier to predict. This helps us decide which investments we dare to make and which not.”

“We have gone through hard times in The Gambia where business is concerned,” Sarr-Krook added. “It was difficult to grow given the political situation. However, we are now well prepared for any opportunity that may arise from a new Gambia.”

Achieving positive results in The Gambia, designated a country affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) by the OECD in 2016, required a tailored approach. For that reason, the project had multiple elements: addressing overarching challenges in the business environment to pave the way for local entrepreneurs and then honing in on two of The Gambia’s largest industries – small-scale agriculture and tourism.

Business Environment

In 2010 when the project launched, starting a business in The Gambia was difficult and expensive. It took, on average, 27 days to receive a business license and the license cost entrepreneurs roughly 215% of their annual income (measured by GNI per capita).

The Growth and Competitiveness Project helped establish an online business registration system and abolish extraneous taxes and regulations that prevented entrepreneurs from formalizing their businesses. The Gambia saw significant improvement. By the project’s close in 2015, the days required to receive a business license had been shaved from 27 to three, and business registration costs decreased from 215% to 141% of average annual income.

These improvements opened the door for new entrepreneurs to get their businesses off the ground. By the end of the project, more than 10,000 new enterprises had registered.

“Projects like this that support business environment reform are critical to our development,” said Naffie Barry, chairperson of the project’s steering committee and Permanent Secretary at The Gambia’s Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment. “Business environment reforms enhance the competitiveness of our economy, help attract more private investment, and thus create growth, employment, and wealth accumulation. With a vibrant private sector, unemployment is usually kept to a controllable level which ensures peace and stability.”

"This project has provided a new lease on life for our agribusiness company. We were able to grow the company and make it highly competitive in international trade."
Momodou Ceesay
Managing Director, Gambia Horticultural Enterprises Limited


In addition to helping to improve the enabling environment for business owners, the Growth & Competitiveness project, in partnership with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), helped to rebuild and revitalize The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute.

According to Kofi Boateng-Agyen, Senior Private Sector Specialist at The World Bank Group and project lead, this funding provided much-needed teachers, books, equipment, and facilities at the institute.


Students at the Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute participate in a training session.

By November 2015, 1,235 full-time students had graduated from the institute, ready for careers at local hotels in The Gambia or on cruise ships. Students were also trained to set up their own enterprises.

Armed with this additional training, hospitality professionals became better equipped to serve tourists from diverse locations. Tourism services have improved as a result. The Gambia is also saw the number of tourists arriving in The Gambia from non-traditional markets increase by 71% between 2011 and 2015.  

Small-scale farming

Like tourism, horticulture, or small-scale agriculture, remains one of The Gambia’s most important industries, with farmers typically relying on traditional techniques and rainfall to grow their crops. The Growth & Competitiveness project established a contract farming program, which equipped small-scale mango farmers in The Gambia with new farming techniques, basic irrigation capabilities, and support from agricultural extension officers. As the quality of their produce improved, the program linked farmers with larger enterprises who purchased and exported the mangoes to places like the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.


Mango farmers prepare their produce for shipment.

This arrangement directly benefited 311 farmers, who increased their sales of mangoes by 463%, from about $80 per year in 2010 to $436 dollars per year in 2015.  

“We are grateful for having the opportunities to gain expertise on advance farming techniques in export quality production through this program,” said Mamady Jassey, president of the Mango Out-Growers Cooperative. This gives us further opportunity to be able to convert our farms into a sustainable source of income for our family members.”


Mango farmers receive training and information on new growing techniques.

“This aspect of the project really exceeded our expectations,” said Boateng-Agyen. “Originally, we thought that getting 10 famers to sign on with the program would be a success. But the program and techniques spread much further.”

As volumes improved, so did the ability to export.

“This project has provided a new lease on life for our agribusiness company,” said Momodou Ceesay, Managing Director of Gambia Horticultural Enterprises Limited (GHE). “We were able to grow the company and make it highly competitive in international trade. As a result of the Growth and Competitiveness Project, GHE is now contributing to poverty reduction, employment creation, capacity building, sustainable and socio-economic developments in The Gambia, giving hope to the dreams of coming generations.”