Lamin Jahateh, Banjul
GAWFA Finance Company, the latest financial institution to be launched in The Gambia, has 6,100,000 ordinary shares for sale, at ten dalasis (D10) per share, Oley Njie Mbye, Chief Executive Officer of the company, has revealed.
Mrs Mbye called on the general public to review the company’s prospectus, complete an application, make a sound decision and invest in GAWFA’s shares.
The CEO called on the general public to join GAWFA in its cause of building safety net for the poor and promoting the economic empowerment of Gambian women by buying its shares to provide an opportunity to change a woman’s life.
“I urge you to please reach out and get GAWFA shares today and not tomorrow. Please help build safety nets for the poor and promote the economic empowerment of women,” she added.
Established in 1987 as a not-for-profit NGO, GAWFA - the Gambia Women’s Finance Association - recently launched its own financial institution called GAWFA Finance Company, to provide trade finance for Gambian women who would like to expand their businesses or establish new ventures.
She said: “With GAWFA shares you are providing an opportunity to change a woman’s life one day at a time, providing safety nets for the poor, empowering women at the socio-economic level and creating the opportunity to make positive changes to a new generation.
“In addition you are contributing to make GAWFA sustainable both financially and institutionally to reach the mission and vision of the organization.”
Hannah Davis, chairperson of GAWFA board, said by purchasing the shares of GAWFA Finance Company one is providing an opportunity to contribute to the economic empowerment of Gambian women. “I urge you to buy GAWFA Finance Company limited shares,” Mrs Davis says.
Beatrice Allen, a board member of GAWFA, added: “The shares of the company are up for sale to the general public but specifically for women, because really we want to be able to do for women what nobody else has done for them so we want to encourage the women first to buy. Nonetheless, we have got some allocations for other members of the public, both companies and individuals, who want to buy shares.”
“We encourage strategic investors both national and international level to invest and buy GAWFA’s shares,” a statement from the company says, adding: “GAWFA is the first and the largest microfinance institution in The Gambia established since 1987 and an affiliate of Women’s World Banking network headquartered in New York. GAWFA’s activities are intended to promote social and economic changes in The Gambia.”
Brief background about GAWFA
GAWFA’s vision is to build a sustainable financial institution that meets the aspirations of women in the vanguard of an evolving financial system, and to regain market leadership by 2020 with a share of at least 50% of the market represented by low Gambia women.
The association has it mission to offer an innovative financial solution that contributes to lasting economic and social benefits for low income Gambian women and their families; and create value for our shareholders and stakeholders.
GAWFA was incorporated in September 1987 with the main objective of catering for the financial needs of the poor and low-income women of The Gambia. The association was the first micro-finance institution to be licensed by the Central Bank of The Gambia.
Over the years, the association has grown from under 100 members to over 48,948 clients, over 90% of whom live in the rural areas.
GAWFA provides financial service to low-income women engaged in income generating activities, such as farmers, traders, and handicraft. It continues to provide services that are innovative, flexible and meet the needs of each category of its clients as they grow in a profitable and sustainable manner.
Between 1994 and 2007, GAWFA disbursed over D127 million as loans. The association was also able to build a culture of savings among women with more than 48,000 clients accumulating a net savings of D12 million.
GAWFA offers three loan products - individual loans, solidarity group loans, and large group loans. Group loans represent 65% of GAWFA portfolio and are concentrated outside Banjul. Individual loans represent 35% of GAWFA disbursement in 2006, and Greater Banjul accounts for 83% of the individual loans disbursed in 2006.
GAWFA achieved a high growth in both credit and savings operations over the past five years, but the credit operations have increased more rapidly than the savings.