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Schools and restaurants. Supermarkets and hospitals. Retail outlets and market vendors. Different industries, right? But they all have something in common, food. My name is Mamadjang Jallow, a Gambian entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Jallow Trading vegetable households.
Like most African kids, I grew up in a family of farmers. I spent my holidays assisting my mother and father in the family farming business. Our produce, organic vegetables, sold all over the area – from restaurants to market vendors, retail outlets to institutions, and supermarkets. As you might guess, by the age of 15, I had developed a passion for agriculture. I saw the gap in the market and farming was a way to close that gap. Through my parents’ support, by 2017, I had started my own business, producing and selling organic products in small quantities. In 2018, I officially launched my horticultural company, which currently provides employment opportunities to Gambians.
Here I was, an 18-year-old growing astounding produce and employing others. Well, it was a bit more complicated than that. Managing employees, funding to expand the business, and weather changes were among the challenges I encountered along the way. To address these challenges, I had to become autodidactic and learn more about the market, weather, be more consistent in my working operations, and reach out to partners for support, together with trusting my team and creating a good working culture.
These efforts paid off over the years, and Jallow Trading Vegetables Farm has won many accolades, including the 2019 Anzisha Prize and GIZ Rural Youth of the Year, 2021 AU Youth Start-Up Pavilion Winner, 2021 TEF Grand Prize Winner, and recently the 2022 World Bank Youth Summit Washington DC.
There is no way I could complete my story without sharing the role that the African Leadership Academy under AL for Agribusiness Network has played. Through winning the Anzisha Prize, I was able to get enough funding and mentorship to grow Jallow Trading Vegetables Farm. I would encourage Africa’s young people to explore agricultural opportunities on the continent and join networks such as AL for Agribusiness to utilize these opportunities.