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building livelihoods in The Gambia (BA)

Location: Gambia
Project type: business & administration
Price from: £1,160 - details below

Share your business skills with people in The Gambia to enable them to build better livelihoods. Volunteer with an internationally recognised tourism college and association to help create local wealth, through trade not aid.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follow:
  • small business skills
  • accountancy, book keeping, IT
  • marketing and sales
  • report writing for fundraising and research
  • training trainers
  • tourism and hospitality 
  • web design

Main project details

Tourism offers much-needed income to poor countries. But who gets the holiday money? This project supports an award winning training college and local association of tourism businesses, helping students and SMEs to gain a livelihood through trade, not aid.

The Institute of Travel and Tourism in The Gambia (ITTOG) provides accredited training courses in travel and tourism-related subjects, ranging from Higher Professional Diplomas to tour guiding or cabin crew and airport certificates, priding themselves in the diversity of learning opportunities they offer.  All courses focus on the concept of Responsible Tourism and how to make destinations better places to live in, and better places to visit, in that order.  ITTOG is partnered with central College Nottingham in the UK, and their courses are accredited by Central College as well as by the National Training Agency of The Gambia. One of ITTOG's key focuses is their belief in the power of entrepreneurship, and they work closely with and provide support for many local tourism-related businesses, as well as running a restaurant and travel brokerage company of their own.  

Many of the businesses are members of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET).  ASSET was established in 2000 to bring together, advocate for, and promote a large number of small enterprises that are active in the tourism industry in The Gambia. 
These enterprises include craft market vendors, tourist taxi drivers, official tourist guides, juice pressers and fruit sellers, as well as a number of guest houses, small hotels and ground tour operators.  ASSET is now supporting, training and representing over 80 members and has become a leading player in the Gambian Responsible Tourism Partnership programme being led by the Gambian Tourist Authority, aiming to ensure that the adverse impacts of tourism are minimised and that maximum benefits are gained by local people and their communities.

`During my placement, I met plenty of ambitious, clever, creative and driven people, who are ready to change the face of Gambia's tourism practices for the better.  I don't know exactly what I expected, but I kept being impressed by the positive vibe and hope that overshadowed by far the minor challenges I experienced.' Volunteer, Anke

This is pro poor tourism at its best!

ASSET's aim is to assist and support small-scale enterprises in tourism to trade fairly and pursue sustainable development, which contributes to the conservation of the physical environment and the social and economic welfare of the community in The Gambia. ASSETs goals are to:

  • contribute to improving the tourism product in The Gambia and help to bring development for the country
  • provide assistance to members with product development, marketing, training, quality control and access to finance
  • work collaboratively, promote networking and joint activities amongst members
  • develop partnerships with government, other institutions and external organisations where appropriate
  • contribute to sustainable development within the Gambian tourism industry using principles and practice of Fair Trade in Tourism
  • identify appropriate quality standards for members
  • protect small-scale business interests in the mass market tourist industry


Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers will help to develop the capacity of ITTOG and ASSET in a variety of ways. You may be based at the college, helping to develop course modules and materials, train teachers and students and/or run courses for local businesses.  Or you may be linked to a local business, helping them to develop their capacity through product development, accounting or marketing.  Volunteer opportunities are many and varied in this project.  Whatever your skills, you are needed to help make tourism an even greater force for good in The Gambia.

To learn more about how the volunteer programme works with this project read more here - and - here


The Gambia is one of the smallest and poorest  countries in the world. It is also one of the friendliest - perhaps the most attractive "real"  Africa to visit. Gambians demonstrate a genuine warmth and tolerance for other cultures. This may be the perfect place for first time travellers to Africa.

More than half of the 1.7 million population lives on less than a dollar a day, with most of the population (over 75%) surviving on subsistence agriculture. Life expectancy is a staggering 55 and the average age is 17.

"Gambian hospitality is overwhelming - I spent 3 months there, volunteering, a few years ago. (It's where we conceived people and places read more) - what little people had they wanted to share with me. I'm so excited to be working with ASSET, I was in the Gambia shortly after its launch. The founding team are inspirational -  it does important work and I know that volunteers can, with skills share, help local people generate enough wealth to care for themselves and their family . . . and in the Gambia the family is all. " Sallie Grayson people and places programme director 

Volunteer opportunities are many and varied in this award-winning poverty reduction programme - small business skills, IT and administration experience, tourism & training skills, alternative technology, product design and marketing - all these skills and more will be welcome in this volunteer project. Whether you are in work and looking for a career break, or already retired, you can share your skills and experience with local small business owners and market gardeners. Take a look at the list of needs, as identified by the project, near the top of this page. You can play your part in responsible volunteer projects abroad.

Minimum duration

4 weeks is an optimum length of time, but placements can be designed for as little as 2 weeks to a maximum stay of 3 months according to volunteer input.

Living Conditions

You will stay in the comfortable home stay of renowned Gambian cook Ida. You will have your own room with a fan - there is an inside bathroom with a shower and hot and cold water. Breakfast is included - you can arrange to eat at home for an additional £3.50 - or eat out at one of the many eateries. Self catering and small hotel accommodation can also be arranged.

Project costs

£1160 for 4 weeks
Read about our costs and pricing policy here 

Watch an explanatory interview with programme director Sallie Grayson
Returning volunteers will receive a 25% reduction in project management and matching fees 
Additional weeks are costed at a sliding reducing rate - please ask for details 
Please note these costs are correct to the best of our knowledge but can only be confirmed at time of booking due to changes in transport and taxes outside our control.
Included: home stay B and B, airport transfers, full local orientation, city tour, social event, local SIM card, project & placement liaison.
Your project contribution will be used for the purchase of essential equipment to facilitate your work in the project.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks:
£450 - direct costs in The Gambia (airport transfers, Home Stay B and B, orientation, information packs)
£250 - project management, liaison & supervision in The Gambia
£200 - project contribution in The Gambia
£260 - recruitment, matching & project development in UK
Not included: flights, insurance, visa costs, daily travel if needed, personal expenses such as phone calls, medical expenses, etc.. 
Meals: An allowance of £10 to £15 per day will be sufficient.

Recommended reading

Check out slideshare   youtube  our blog  facebook for volunteer interviews & project news

2011 UN report - Youth in Africa

Rough Guide to The Gambia

The Good Tourist in The Gambia - a guide book for the conscientious tourist

The Bradt Travel Guide Book - The Gambia

Project gallery

Registered volunteers can learn about the local team for this project - LOG ON to learn more about this project and the local team we work with. Not registered yet? It's easy and free HERE!

Expert Tours People and Places Ltd trading as people and places - Company Number 03805796 - Registered in England at: 1 Naboth's Nursery, Canterbury Road, Faversham, Kent ME13 8AX