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Ida Cham

Born in Gambia, just before her country gained independence from the Great Britain, in a country with scarce economic resources, Ida was one of the two of her five sisters who had the opportunity to study at home.

In 1988, she graduated from Hotel Tourism and Catering Management studies at West London College. Upon her return to Gambia, she began working at one of the most well-known hotels of the country, first as the Food and Beverage Coordinator, before moving on to public relations and becoming the marketing manager.

She was then named General Manager of the Makasutu Cultural Forest. This was a sustainable tourism project seeking to maximise the value of the cultural and natural patrimony of the Makasutu forest, a natural reserve located five kilometres from Rikama, the closest city, in an area of meanders for the Mandina Bolong, an affluent of the Gambia river.

After attending a course in Taiwan in 2008 on Community-based Tourism, Ida Cham decided to renounce her work and begin her own business of home-made food named “Yabouy Home Cooking”. Yabouy means ‘mother’ in a tribute to her mother, another entrepreneur who passed away in 2005. Through Yabouy Home Cooking, Ida Cham showcases the cultural and traditional values of her country.

As the president of ASSET, the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, between 2009 and 2010, with the collaboration of international partners, including the Banesto Foundation, Ida Cham was able to initiate projects for training in entrepreneurship. These projects benefitted over 1,000 people, including 600 women linked to the tourism industry; also for funding purposes, securing small, interest-free revolving loans, for small touristic businesses mainly led by women. 

In 2013, the Gambia Tourist Council placed her in charge of implementing training programs on the gastronomy of Gambia directed at community-based tourist companies in the country.

Also in 2013, Ida Cham founded Yabouy Charity, a non-profit entity aimed at improving the lives of women of the communities around Brufut, a place located on the West Coast of Gambia, via different socio-economic and environmental initiatives

In 2017, Ida Cham received the “African Travel 100 Women” winner award, a sign of recognition which is given to the leaders, pioneers and innovators of the travel and tourism industry in Africa.

Her company’s motto is

“Preserving my culture to promote sustainable tourism”.