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No Woman Left Behind - a women's empowerment programme in The Gambia (WE)

Location: Gambia
Project type: womens empowerment
Price from: £1076.00 - details below

Share your business and training skills to help support women in The Gambia who have been exploited in their past to become independent earners and build livelihoods and business opportunities for themselves. 

Skills required

We work closely with the local people who manage this project, and they have identified their primary volunteer needs as follows:

accountancy, book keeping, IT
publicity and marketing
event management 
customer service
business skills
life skills

Main project details

No Woman Left Behind (NWLB) is a new association established by the students of a cookery and food processing skills programme managed by The Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (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, and they are about to open their own shop and restaurant.
NWLB aspires to:
build capacity and therefore the independence of women and girls – particularly the vulnerable and previously exploited 
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 organizations where appropriate
contribute to sustainable development within the Gambian using principles and practice of fair trade 
identify appropriate quality standards for members
protect small-scale business interests in the catering and events industry in The Gambia 
further good relations between themselves and similar organisations in other countries 

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.

Depending on their skills and experience, volunteers can help to develop the capacity of NWLB in a variety of ways.  You may work with individual members of the Executive, mentoring them to develop their skills, for example in financial management or marketing.  You may work online alongside local people to help produce training materials for the business course which provides part of their training.  You could work with members of the Association to develop their self-confidence, assertiveness and means of self-presentation.  Volunteer opportunities are many and varied in this project.  Whatever your skills, you are needed to help on this important women’s empowerment project 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


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 women's support programme - small business skills, human resource management, 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 live in a secure apartment within a family compound.  Your appartment will have a small kitchen enabling you to cater for yourself.  There are supermarkets and restaurants nearby.  All apartments have TV, Wifi, fans and shower room.  There is the option of air conditioning at an additional cost.
If you would prefer to stay in a small hotel or have access to a pool we have various other accommodation options we can share with you.

Project costs

From £1076 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 (not including data), project & placement liaison.
Your contribution will fund the work of the programme and purchase the materials you may need.
How your money is spent based on 4 weeks:
£336 - 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, data packages for smartphones, medical expenses, etc.. 
Meals: an allowance of £10-£15 per day should be more than sufficient...depending on your tastes!

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

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