MBG's work commended by Lord Judd in a debate in the House of Lords on 'Soft Power and Conflict Resolution'

Lord-Judd-of-PortseaThe debate was introduced by Rt Reverend Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury on 5 December 2014.

In the course of his contribution to the debate in the House of Lords, Lord Judd states:

".....On a more local level, I happen to be a patron of the Marlborough Brandt Group, set up at the time of the Brandt Report, which has kept going extremely well. The point about the Marlborough Brandt Group is that over 30 years it has brought people from The Gambia in West Africa to work there on Marlborough's social problems... And young people from Marlborough have been going to work in The Gambia.

That programme has recently had to stop because they simply cannot cope with the difficulties of getting visas for Gambians to come to this country. It is at moments like these that we have to ask ourselves, what on earth are we doing cutting off our noses to spite our faces. If anything is an illustration of practical cooperation this is it..."

Grants awarded for Business Scheme

We are pleased to announce we have just been awarded grants totalling £8,000 for the business programme in Gunjur. Tribal, an international provider of educational resources has given a grant of £3000. We have also received two grants of £2,500 from St James' Place. Of which £2,500 is to be spent on supporting entrepreneurs in Gunjur and £2,500 to enable the 8 students who are attending Gambian Technical Training Institute GTTI to continue their studies for a further two years.

Local Entrepreneurs in Gunjur

We are delighted by the work of our colleagues in the Business Development Steering Committee and Buba Touray the new Programme Manager. Buba introduced us to a number of new and established entrepreneurs who are requesting small loans to develop their businesses.

A women's group in nearby Berending are picking leaves from the nearby neem tree, boiling the leaves in water and then adding soap flakes and vegetable oil to the extract producing an effective insect repellent which prevent children from being bitten by mosquitoes and getting malaria. They need funds to buy the raw materials to increase their production and make it more efficient including more charcoal stoves.

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 Alieu Darboe is passionate about the horrors of plastic rubbish which lies around on the streets. Anyone who has been to Gunjur will know that this is not only a terrible eyesore but poses a real threat to health and to the environment. Alieu and his team have collected mountains of waste in bin bags which he is currently storing in two large sheds. We are supporting him in starting a business of compressing the plastic to make bricks for construction purposes. Once prepared, plastic bags can also be turned into a durable thread which can then be crocheted into bags, hats, sandals, belts and much more. Simple training and basic tools can turn plastic bags into attractive products popular in the eco tourism industry.

A local tailoring cooperative are hoping to expand into larger premises, and need more sewing machines. This group also self-organise shared skills workshops and business coaching.

Lamin is a poultry farmer who needs funds to provide a larger premises and a free range area for his growing chicken and duck brood which are already bringing in a small income through the sale of eggs and meat.

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Ndey is running a small hairdressing and beauty parlour but is finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with demand. She needs financial support to enable her to buy more equipment, employ another hairdresser and move to larger premises.

Maimuna recognised that there is a problem of young girls dropping out of school as they don't have the means to deal with menstrual bleeding. She is sewing reusable sanitary towels made entirely from locally available material which she sells at 3 for £1.50 which after washing in soap and salt can be re-used and she believes will last for five years. She is mounting a public education campaign through the teenage girls and hopes to secure funding for another sewing machine so that she can employ another member of staff.

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We are planning to give small entrepreneurs like these, loans to cover the sums they are requesting to be paid back over 2-3 years on production of a proper business plan which they will produce with the help of our TARUD business programme manager Buba Touray.

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