Rural Business Development in the Gambia

Case Study:

Rural Business Development in the Gambia




The Background

The Gambia has few natural resources, limited industry and few employment opportunities, with negative net migration and high numbers of young people leaving the country. A large, and growing number of young people are enthusiastic to develop their own income-generating micro businesses. However, nearly all have little relevant education or experience or ability to achieve it.

There is therefore an educational development gap, which is progressively widening, and it is into this gap that the proposal presented in this application seeks to contribute. The programme has been researched to provide culturally appropriate training, on-going mentoring and train the trainer training to ensure its sustainability.

The Partners

BE REEL (Building Empowerment – Rural Economic Engagement in Life) was established as a small UK charity to facilitate the development and roll-out of a programme designed to help alleviate poverty in The Gambia through helping people in rural communities to set-up and build micro-businesses, to achieve sustainable development for themselves and communities.

The Proposal & Arkleton Trust Involvement

This pilot project is an educational programme for people wishing to explore business ideas or who need to further develop existing micro businesses in rural Gambia. It aims to encourage sustainable community development through economic growth and employment amongst the ‘youth’ of Gunjur for the pilot with Arkleton Trust support; and broader rural Gambia after the pilot stages.

Whilst senior education and tertiary education in the Gambia are too expensive for many to undertake, this programme will provide an alternative avenue to business education. The project will provide:

  • Vocational training in business and entrepreneurship to the youth in The Gambia
  • A business hub for peer support amongst programme members
  • Training to local employees who will take over the programme and become the trainers (Train the trainer).
  • A system of business mentors for participants
  • Employment of local trainers, facilitators and project staff

From the pilot stages it is expected to train up to 30 people around Gunjur, give employment to 2 facilitators for each programme, on-going employment for a project officer (after 6 months) with line management from a local charity. Thereafter it is expected to train approximately 40 people per year with the employment opportunities continuing as before or growing. The business hub will be primarily for people who have completed the programme but could be extended to others.

At the end of the training participants will:

  • Understand the essential principles and practical application for running a successful small business.
  • Have assessed their own capability, motivation and capacity to set up and run their own business.
  • Have assessed their potential or existing business ideas and activities.
  • Be able to develop their own business plan (and maybe apply for micro-finance) to start up or continue a small business.
  • Fully trained business trainers
  • A business hub for peer to peer business support

Arkleton Trust has part funded the pilot stage, which will enable us to refine the programme content and programme management. This is an essential piece of knowledge sharing between the pilot participants and the training delivery team to ensure that the lessons being shared are culturally appropriate for the context whilst based on sound business practice. We will also be piloting the ‘sensitisation’ part of the programme, which will share the principles of the programme across the village to ensure that participants, their families and other key stakeholders have the commitment to be involved and will provide participants with the necessary support.


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