Sterling economic operators in The Gambia have been giving a shot in the arm for their excellent and remarkable performance in business in 2011, by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry at its 19th Annual Business Awards held at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa on 1 June this year.
These are business concerns considered to have demonstrated core values of business excellence, product excellence, sustainability and commercial success in their various spheres of business operations.
The prestigious annual business awards night and gala dinner witnessed the presentation of the awards to the crème de le crème, best of the best businesses in the country in the following categories: Enterprise of the Year, Bank of the Year, Insurance Company of the Year, Manufacturing Company of the Year, Telecommunications Company of the Year, Start-up of the Year, Partner to the Business Community, Hotel of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, and Eco-Tourism Business of the Year.
The Enterprise of the Year award went to Lasting Solutions, a Gambian-owned company that specializes in all sorts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related products and services. The other nominees are BB Electrical and Scape.
This year Trust Bank Limited, the winner of the Bank of the Year award for the past five years, lost the award to Guaranty Trust Bank, thanks to the innovative and outstanding performance of the latter.
The other nominees for this category are Ecobank, and Trust Bank but GTBank outdid all of them to win the award for being the bank with a significant amount of investment in the production, development and employment sectors of the economy, and good customer service ratings, which is indispensable for the success of any business venture.
Insurance Company of the Year, a new award on the list, went to twelve-year-old International Insurance Company Limited, the only insurance company that underwrites both life and non-life, and the most capitalised of the eleven insurance companies presently operating in the country.
The other nominees on this category were Global Security Insurance Company and Takaful, the only Islamic insurance company in The Gambia and the West African sub-region.
The Manufacturing Company of the Year award went to Banjul Breweries, in a category shortlisted together with Timber and Furniture Company.
The Telecommunications Company of the Year was taken again for the 6th consecutive year by Africell, who were also the major sponsor of the awards night. Gamcel and QCell were also nominated for the same award but lost to the traditional winners.
Start-up of the Year, also a new award, went to New Century, an established ICT consulting firm, which is behind Findit.gm, The Gambia's premier business directory. Insist Global, a software engineering firm that specializes in business information management systems, and Jorjo Organics, a small-scale company that specialises in making useable products like soap.
The Partner to the Business Community Award went to Gamworks, for their significant and consistent support to the business community. Social Development Fund was also nominated for the same award.
The Hotel of the Year award went to Kairaba Beach Hotel, one of the few five-star hotels in the country. Coco Ocean and Senegambia Hotels were also nominated for the award.
Restaurant of the Year award was captured by Butchers Shop and Restaurant over Gaya, Clay Oven and Luigi’s restaurants, while Eco-Tourism Business of the Year award went to Sandele, over Sindola and Makasutu.
Pansaw Nyassi, business development officer of the GCCI, said the nomination process this year was given added impetus as it was very participatory and proficiently handled by competent institutions from start to finish.
He said they employed a lot of processes which led to the short-listing of the nominees. “This time we involved other bodies like the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, and the Central Bank of the Gambia so as to make the award process as transparent as possible,” he said, adding: “Even if you won several times we will give you still as long as you deserve it and meet all the criteria.”
The Gambia’s Vice President Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy was given the special GCCI President’s Award, for her consistent support to the private sector.
Bai Matarr Drammeh, president of GCCI, said the annual business awards catalyses the achievement of higher productivity and enhances competition among businesses. It has also helped in building a culture of creativity and hard work for business excellence.
Speaking earlier, Vice President Dr Aja Isatou Njie-Saidy urged the private sector to buck up, particularly in agriculture.
There are lots of business potentials in the country’s agriculture which the private sector can harness, she says.
The theme for this year’s award is: ‘Standing by the Gambian farmer,’ and the organizers said it is in response to the recently declared national crop failure, which also serves as a quota of their efforts in taking the lead in restoring public awareness on the significance of agriculture in the country’s economy.