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e-volunteer - business and tourism development and women's empowerment in The Gambia (EV)

Location: Gambia
Project type: e-volunteer
Price from: £400 - details below

Share your education and training skills to help local people build better livelihoods and business opportunities for themselves. Help to identify and develop tourism opportunities in The Gambia and Senegal.

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs for e-volunteers:

  • training the trainers
  • mentoring
  • tourism and hospitality industry experience
  • event management 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
  • translators
This programme offers the opportunity to volunteer without leaving home for little cost.

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 and generating income to support further development.
Our local partner in The Gambia says:
" As we in The Gambia are working hard to adapt our very important tourism industry for the post Covid it is important that we can continue to access the skills that people and places volunteers share with us. - even if they cannot travel to be with us. We are keen to work with volunteers who have business, IT, web design and language skills - we look forward to working with you - a warm welcome awaits you on the sunshine coast even if it is virtual sunshine!" Adama Bah - The Gambia
The Institute of Travel and Tourism in The Gambia (ITTOG) teaches and facilitates some skills-based experiential learning courses designed to provide students with the specialist skills required to work in a specific area of employment and to mentor them as they become independent earners, as well as teaching some formal, classroom-based courses in aspects of travel and tourism leading to formal qualifications.
Skills-based courses focus on areas such as culinary skills, performing arts and event management, and lead trainees through the process from students to independent earners, through college-based skills and business courses, work experience and mentoring support as trainees enter employment and become independent earners and/or set up their own associations.
One such association is No Woman Left Behind (NWLB), a new association established by the students of a cookery and food processing skills programme managed by ITTOG.  The course supports young women, who have been exploited in their past (trafficking and abuse for example). The goal is to train the women in both cookery and business and personal skills that will enable them to be independent and build the future they want for themselves.  The association aims to be a self-support group and network with other women’s associations to support other exploited women in The Gambia. They are doing this through the sale of their products such as pastries and local event catering.  

Traditionally roles for women in The Gambia bind them to their families and domestic roles within that family (daughter, sister, wife, mother) and the land (farmer).  Most of the population survives on subsistence agriculture, including local gardens which are traditionally nearly always the woman’s responsibility.  In law, there is equality of the sexes. In practice, men tend to exert control over their wives and female children.  At the same time, there is a growing women's movement in Gambia.  The average family lives on a daily income of $1, but education after grade six costs $100 per year. Families frequently invest their small income in educating boys, whom they think will support them in adulthood. As a result, women struggle to find opportunities beyond domestic and agricultural labor.  The aim of the Association is to provide the women with an alternative way of making a living for themselves, and to provide the business and personal skills to enable them to make independent decisions about their futures.

ITTOG also 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 Accreditation Quality Assurance Authority 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 and community tourism initiatives.
Volunteers are needed to work alongside individual businesses and small enterprises who are or were formerly members of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Responsible Tourism (ASSERT), particularly as tourism begins to reopen after the pandemic.  Our partners in The Gambia support a number of these businesses which meet their strict criteria for responsible and pro-poor tourism.

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.  Due to impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought tourism in The Gambia virtually to a halt, ASSERT is temporarily not operational, though membership remains. These enterprises include craft market vendors, batik and tie-dye fabric printers, 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.  This initiative continues to play a leading role 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.

Community tourism initiatives are focused on ways of ensuring that tourist trip as far as possible benefit the communities they visit.  An example of this is the Ninki-Nanka Trail, a tourist trail tracing the route of the River Gambia.  This is an exciting new responsible tourism initiative in The Gambia delivered in partnership with the Gambian Tourism Board and other stakeholders. The trail aims to disperse economic benefit to rural areas (currently vast majority of tourism benefit is on the coast, between Senegambia and Bakau, with only a small % of the tourism dollar benefitting Gambian people), diversify Gambia’s tourism product by providing new, authentic community-based and heritage experiences that build on the untapped potential of the River Gambia, and create opportunities for tourism to continue for longer than the very short 4-5 month tourist season based on the coast.  Communities along the trail will provide accommodation for visitors, are being trained as tourist guides, and will provide a number of different authentic experiences for tourists as they trace the river and travel the full length of the country from west to east.
This is pro poor tourism at its best!
Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers will help to develop the capacity of ITTOG, NWLB and ASSERT members in a variety of ways. You may mentor some of the women in NWLB to help develop their business skills and personal development.  You may link up with local people to develop one of the community tourism initiatives.  You may work with staff 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.

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 62 and approximately 65% of the population is under 25.  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, mentoring and life 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

Flexible, depending on the type of e-volunteer work you are able to do

Living Conditions

You will work from home

Project costs

£400 based on a 12 week placement

£100 placement design,management and support in The Gambia including regular video conferencing with you and the volunteer coordinator and project leader

£100 project contribution to fund the ongoing work of ITTOG and to cover any costs involved for ITTOG to facilitate your placement - eg purchase of materials locally 

£200 matching, preparation support in the UK including regular video conferencing with you before and during your placement and liaison with local partners

You will need to go through the people and places matching and monitoring process, which includes an up-to-date enhanced DBS check - if you require a new DBS check the cost is currently £29.80.

You will also need to cover the cost of any resources you wish to buy in the UK to support your e-volunteering work.

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

Why are we asking you to pay? Please take look here to learn why our work would not be possible without a payment from you

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

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Project Reviews

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