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business and tourism training in The Gambia (ED)

Location: Gambia
Project type: education support
Price from: £1219.00 - details below

Share your education and training skills to help local people build better livelihoods and business opportunities for themselves. Volunteer with an internationally recognised tourism college 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:

  • training the trainers
  • tourism and hospitality industry experience
  • small business development skills
  • alternative technologies
  • product design, sales and marketing
  • accountancy, book keeping, IT
  • website design and development
  • report writing for fundraising and research

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 students were used to presenting either one-on-one or verbally to small groups with flip chart resources, so it was a basic introduction to effectively using the software and delivering short, punchy presentations backed up by good delivery and post-presentation handouts. As The Gambia experiences frequent power cuts I didn't want to make them too reliant on technology alone. You can't be a shrinking violet as a volunteer, and you have to play both a PR role and a leadership role in order to get down to the nitty gritty and get your job done!"
Volunteer, Claire

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 Responsible Tourism (ASSERT).  ASSERT (formerly 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.  ASSERT 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.

This is pro poor tourism at its best!

ASSERT'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. ASSERT's 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 ASSERT 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.

You can also volunteer on this project from home through our e-volunteer programme.  For more information about e-volunteering click here.

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.

Most of the population survives on subsistence agriculture, mainly livestock rearing and groundnut cultivation.  Groundnut is the main cash crop but efforts to diversify have brought in sesame growing, which is predominantly grown by women.  Rice is the staple food but the country has not yet reached self-sufficiency in rice production thus leading to huge imports of this commodity.  In addition to agriculture, tourism is an important source of foreign exchange as well as of employment.

Life expectancy is just 61 and approximately 38% of the population is under 14.  The social fabric of The Gambia is based on family networks often stretching into neighbouring countries where the extended family takes responsibility for the well-being and maintenance of the family.  According to the 1998 Participatory Poverty Assessments, 69% of the 1.8 million population live in poverty and 30% live in extreme poverty.  Women and youths are classified the poorest of the poor.

In spite of its multi-ethnic and multi-lingual characteristics occasioned by the existence of five main ethnic groups (Mandinka, Fula, Wolof, Jola and Serahule) and a similar number of minority groups there is 'unity in diversity' because of similar structures in the communal lifestyles.  Islam is the predominant religion with 95% of the population being Muslim; Christians account for the remainder and a few practise traditional religions.  One common strand among ethnic groups is patriarchy where male dominance is common.

"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 ASSERT, 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 have the choice of living in 2 apartment complexes - the costs shown here are for a single volunteer staying in a studio apartment -however we have more options available - ie single apartments - shared apartments and apartments with pools - we will discuss these options with you during the matching and preperation process
Apartments are in secure apartment blocks and range in size from studio apartments for one person to two-bedroom cottages.  The apartments all have small kitchenettes enabling you to cater for yourself - there are supermarkets on site or nearby.  All have TV and wifi and the option of air conditioning; some have a pool.

Project costs

From £1219 for 4 weeks single volunteer in studio apartment - NB reductions apply for double occupancy

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: self catering apartment, 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:
£ 479- direct costs in The Gambia (airport transfers, Home Stay B and B, orientation, information packs)
£280 - 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 £5 to £10 per day will be sufficient.

If you or your friends and family wish to make further donations to this project please contact us at

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