Young Women Use Technology and Tourism to Transform Their Communities

Fatou Juka Darboe is the co-founder and director of Make3D Company Limited, the first and only 3D printing company in The Gambia. Isatou Foon is a young tour guide from Janjanbureh, renowned for its historical and cultural heritage. What unites them is their passion to use trade to transform their communities. Both have benefited from the Youth Empowerment Project, an initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC) funded by the European Union, which aims to unlock the potential of young people in The Gambia to support economic growth.

Fatou Juka Darboe is the co-founder and director of Make3D Company Limited.
Fatou Juka Darboe is the co-founder and director of Make3D Company Limited.


Creating Bespoke Solutions

Make3D offers 3D printed products that help companies obtain customised items unavailable in The Gambia. This covers a wide range of products, from branded antibacterial combs for a local barbershop to bespoke lip balm containers for a cosmetics business. The 3D printed items help companies boost sales, optimise resources and respond quickly to emerging needs.

Juka’s work also provides health solutions. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Make3D partnered with ITC and the Medical Research Council to produce 3D printed face shields for healthcare professionals. Make3D also produces medical and safety equipment, such as customised prosthetics and orthopaedic legs and braces, working with a group of local surgeons. The company is also developing partnerships in West Africa and Europe to exchange knowledge and advance technology gains.

Isatou is a trainer in community-based tourism
Isatou is a trainer in community-based tourism

A Win-Win for Tourism

Isatou describes her job as “helping visitors make awesome memories” while visiting her community. She aims to provide her guests with insights into the local culture through a range of sight-seeing activities.

Isatou is a trainer in community-based tourism. She shares her knowledge with other communities to help create tourism products that improve the region’s standard of living while preserving the local culture and environment. Her work provides opportunities to the local community, specifically women and youth, as they can find income-generating activities without feeling the need to migrate to urban areas. Isatou is also passionate about encouraging more women to pursue a career in tourism. In addition, she champions the development of inclusive tourism at university level.

When Culture Meets Tech

Tourism and information and communication technology are important sectors in The Gambia and prioritized in the country’s National Development Plan. Recognizing that technology can have a transformative impact on many sectors, Juka’s company started using 3D printing technology in the tourism sector.

In partnership with the Youth Empowerment Project, her company developed a 3D printed board game around the Ninki Nanka Trail, which provides travellers with the opportunity to learn about the legend of the Ninki Nanka dragon and discover the natural and cultural heritage of communities along the river Gambia.

Juka worked with local communities and tourism professionals to develop the board game. The initiative has helped to support local artisans, with part of the proceeds from sales going back into communities to support community-based tourism initiatives. Juka is passionate about the economic opportunities this creates and how it helps create awareness of her unique culture and to preserve it for future generations.

Original Source: World Trade Organization