Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Gabriel .A. Gomez On The Platform

Gabriel A.Gomez is an enterprising young man from Gambia, he is the Manager Finance and Administration at Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA). He is a Chartered Certified Accountant.

He supervises all aspects of Finance function, Management Accounts, Budget, Annual Financial Statement, Audit Engagement, Fixed Assets, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Petty Cash management, Bank Reconciliation etc.

Gabriel is the founder of GAM MINDS FOUNDATION. He steps on The Platform and we discussed his contribution as a youth to make his community in Gambia a better place for all.

ThankGod: Welcome on the platform Gabriel.

Gabriel: Thanks Mr. ThankGod I'm glad to be around

ThankGod: Let's meet you Gabriel?

Gabriel: My name is Gabriel .A. Gomez, I’m born and brought up in kitty village in the west coast region of the Gambia, I am from a polygamous family of 12 of which I am the 9th child. I schooled in Fatima Senior Secondary School Bwiam, Studied AAT and ACCA and completed my Acca program in June 2010.

I have worked with KPS a corresponding firm of KPMG, PKF, Augustus Prom and finally Gambia investment and export promotion agency (GIEPA) where I work as finance manager. I have strong passions for youth development which I conceive early in my teen years.

I founded GAM MINDS foundation which seeks to motivate, Inspire, Nurture, Develop and Support young Gambians to move from followers to leaders and leaders to change agents in entrepreneurship innovation and education.

ThankGod: What practical steps have GAM MINDS Foundation taken to nurture and develop young Gambians?

Gabriel: We organize seminars and youth empowerment programs, we identify interested youths to enroll in our mentorship programs, the mentorship is on education and entrepreneurship.

ThankGod: Has any young person in Gambia started any business as a result of your mentorship program?

Gabriel: Yes two businesses has been registered and operational since 2015, the foundation provided seed capital and provide advisory service where necessary or link them to institutions that provides other forms of support, others are on the pipeline to start their businesses and benefit from the support but must meet certain conditions.

In addition many youths in Gambia consider entrepreneurship as a trade for school dropouts, most outstanding ones will prefer white colour jobs, to change this mentality is a battle we face regularly.

ThankGod: Do you get support from NGOs or the government, how have you been able to achieve all this?

Gabriel: Lolzzzzz! The initiative started in 2007 when I just started working as an audit assistant. Since then I have been saving for this agenda on a monthly basis. To date we did not ask for support from any NGO or government institution, the reason is we want to grow organically and not depend on grants or external funds. We are doing what we love i.e. born to do. Currently we are working on our sustainability plan to keep the dream alive, any support from external source will help us support more youths.

ThankGod: You mentioned sustainability, which will take me to my next question. Does your foundation have any plans of incorporating the SDGs into your program?

Gabriel: Yes, SDGs are integral part of our agenda; our main focus is education entrepreneurship and innovation. Our programs cover more than 1/2 SDG goals.

ThankGod: You were part of the cohort of YALI, can you share your experience with us and one significant lesson you learnt? 

Gabriel: Yes I was part of YALI Accra RLC cohort 2 where I met 103 other participants from 8 West African countries including the Gambia. YALI experience was wonderful the sessions include leadership, ethics, contemporary issue, gender and diversity, health policies for positive development, urbanization among others. Lessons learnt include leadership positions are for those prepared. And developing Africa requires concerted efforts don't wait for your neighbor to do something about a problem, take ownership of the problem and do something about it.

ThankGod: You were an intern at MyFarm, what impart did MyFarm had on the young people in Gambia, and what roll did you play as a Volunteer?

Gabriel: Myfarm inspire youths and women to venture into entrepreneurship particularly agro business and environmental friendly ventures, and MyFarm also have an educational unit that teach children leaving in the area about the environment, agriculture, conflict resolution, IPad and scratch a programming software for beginners thus kids are taught how to use scratch to do animation and games.

Myfarm also train youth on soap making, making gem juice moringa powder, and other life skills.

I contributed to the educational unit, I teach the kids environment, agriculture, conflict resolutions and join the in the inspirational journey to communities and schools, i work in the farm too.

ThankGod: Awesome things you are doing I must say.

Gabriel: Thanks I must also say that I owe the next generation more than I’m giving back.

ThankGod: There's an economic meltdown down around the world and the economy in some countries in Africa is in a chaotic state right now. As a chartered accountant, what do you think can be done to improve the state of the economy in Africa?

Gabriel: I am a strong advocate of developing not only political institutions but also local communities. Thus local communities should be strengthened and youths should be inspired to participate in every sphere of development. I also believe Africa should be willing to produce and process what they eat otherwise we will remain dependent on other continents, that's the only way that we can have a positive balance of trade. Thus education entrepreneurship and innovation should be our priority as a continent if we want to be competitive.

ThankGod: Any final word for youths around the world?

Gabriel: Benjamin Disraeli said ' the youths of every nation are the trustees of its prosperity', this statement doesn't exempt anyone and the worst thing that can happen to a man is to live without a vision. We need vision to accomplish any mission. I advise fellow youths to invest their time to better Africa than they found it. Life is not defined by how much one acquired but how many people one impact. Go ahead and impact other people’s lives.
Expect disappointment but never lose hope because that the right way to go.

ThankGod: Thank You Gabriel for speaking with me on The Platform.

Gabriel: You are welcome Mr. ThankGod it’s been great speaking with you.


This interview was conducted by ThankGod Okorisha, All rights reserved, 4th April, 2016.

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