This is the next post in a series of guest contributions where we invite colleagues to share their own expertise from a broad range of specialities. The following post is written by Khadijah Aja Tambajang, who as the Founder and Lead Consultant of MakalliMatta Consulting, focuses on using communications as a platform for the Gambia’s development. Khadijah previously worked at Sparks & Co.
In 2010, I set up my company MakalliMatta Consultancy (MMC), a communication and business set up firm in the Gambia, with the objective of upscaling the Gambian communication industry and promoting Brand Gambia. MMC started as a stand-alone communication firm focusing on communication strategy formulation and implementation. We are now a fully-fledged communication and business set-up facilitating firm with a synchronized boutique platform. Upon the initial start up of the business set up arm of the company in 2011, business was put on hold after two years due to an unappealing political and economical environment. Those of us in the communication industry found ourselves heavily censored. The Gambia in the Jammeh era (1994 to 2016) goes down in history as a time of heavy restrictions on the media and across sectors – you were either part of his ‘squad’ or an outsider.
Cultivating my communication skills in Paris…
For the outsiders, the Gambia became unbearable under Jammeh. In 2014, at the height of this oppression (for me) compounded with a depressed economic atmosphere, led to my pursuing a Masters in Global Communications from L’ISCOM, Institute Supérieur de Communication et Publicité in Paris. During my graduate Alternance (work-study program) at L’ISCOM, I acquired some work experience with Sparks and Co, a Science Communication agency focused on the communications component of Horizon 2020 projects, an 80 billion Euro seven year fund for European science research and innovation. My experience at Sparks allowed me to apply my skills to a different market, allowing me to truly understand the dynamic and ever evolving field of Global Communications. My placement at Sparks empowered me immensely and helped solidify the MMC blueprint.
I knew early on, the power of communication and the great tool it was for Africa’s development.
Using communication as a tool for development was a map I laid for myself. Blending my Africana Studies and Public Relations background in university was just the beginning. I knew early on, the power of communication and the great instrument it was for Africa’s development. In the name of development, we facilitate the set up of businesses in a wide range of sectors, including the ICT field. With an increase in individuals and corporates wanting to tap into renewables and digital technologies for development, this is prime time for us to help them navigate the Gambian entrepreneurial landscape with the hopes that it will result in an increase in jobs within the sector. We are using communication to attract international businesses to set up shop in Gambia; this is in line with our support for the Ministry of Trade’s mandate to create youth employment. MMC hopes that the creating of more jobs will help keep young talented Gambians on the ground as opposed to them seeking refuge in foreign territory with the sometimes deadly route they choose to reach Europe’s shores.
Moreover, we aim to support women in securing jobs within the STEM field. This can be done using communication across the spectrum. We dive deep in our Girls in ICT passion by championing women engagement via persuasive communication in STEM. I have a personal interest in seeing Gambian girls prosper, as a women and girls’ activist and social writer. Communication is the key for a developed Africa. It allows for the transfer of knowledge and the connection of communities both within and outside the region.
Today, The Gambia is open for business as it turns its back on a former oppressing regime. As underdeveloped territory, the Gambia is set to make speedy progress, getting back on its feet with more strength. This has made it an appealing environment for corporates and individuals who look towards our warm shores. Over the years, MMC has facilitated business tours and supported the set-up process for varying stakeholders within and outside of the ECOWAS region. New Gambia has encouraged many to finally set up and evolve their businesses in a safe environment and this includes MMC’s evolution. We believe that the Gambia’s future is promising. We believe that in a fair business friendly environment, together we can make Africa stronger. Following the European Union model of integration is a best sample for Africa to emulate if we are to evolve into a robust economic power.
This post was written by Khadijah Aja Tambajang, who, as coach on collaborative practices, focuses (among other things) on the Living Lab approach within cultural organizations as well as helping to set Responsible Research and Innovation into practice.
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