On October 30th 2014, the Governor of Basse, Omar Ceesay, in Mansajang Kunda, Basse, The Gambia hosted a ceremony for the 40 Serahule communities receiving a Community Development Grant. These communities had completed Tostan’s Community Empowerment Program (CEP) in December of 2013. The grant of 26,888 Dalasi (or $672) will be used to set up a community-run microcredit program in each of their respective communities.

The Community Management Committee (CMC) President, Secretary, and Treasurer from each community were present, including three CMC members who were trained in project and financial management in July and August of 2014 by Tostan microcredit Supervisors Mohammad Cessay and Bilal Susso. Staff members from Tostan’s national office in The Gambia, bank representatives, the Regional Ombudsman, the Women’s Councilor, and the Deputy Governor were also in attendance.

Ansou Kambaye, the National Coordinator of Tostan in The Gambia, opened the ceremony with words of encouragement and advice. He stated that the community development grant is theirs to set up small businesses in their communities. He recommended that the money be shared with CEP class participants, without whom there would be no grant awarded in the first place.

CEP class participants developed project and financial management skills during the final phase of the CEP:the Aawde. The grant money therefore enables them to put their skills into practice by setting up income generating activities and managing projects. Kambaye finished his speech with these words: “Tostan has done its bit, now the ball is in your court!” His statement was met with great applause.

Alasana Baldeh, from the local GT Bank, stressed the importance of microcredit. The astounding number of women representing their CMCs also impressed him. In addition, he addressed the importance of record keeping and dividing the funds in a consultative and participatory manner.

To close the ceremony, the Deputy Governor, Cherno Bare Touray, praised the Serahule communities for their hard work, cooperation, and unity. He said he had no doubts that they would succeed.