The Gambia

Humanity Now Partners to deliver an Entrepreneurship Program for Teen Girls


The Gambia faces economic challenges. Its rank of 175 on the 2015 United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index puts it near the bottom of the world’s 188 ranked countries. And while it’s challenging for all, women and girls are most at risk: The Gambia’s Gender Inequality Index is similarly near the least favorable in the world, at 143 out of 188. That same 2015 UNDP report shows only 17.4% of females aged 25+ have had any secondary education.

To address these challenges, since 2009, Humanity Now has been partnering with Gambian community organization Starfish International to increase opportunities for teen girls.  We intercede before a girl has dropped out of school, and before early marriage and early motherhood.

STarfish International photo studio The Gambia 600px
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Humanity Now’s role is to design and deliver onsite a curriculum that teaches girls how to run photography businesses. The money they earn taking event photos and family portraits enables the girls to stay in school. Not only do the girls earn critical funds, but by contributing to their families economically, they are able to rebuff cultural pressure to eschew school in favor of teen marriage.

Since the program’s inception in 2009, graduation rates have risen to more than double the national average, and several graduates have gone on to further their studies in college.

We’ve recently launched a traveling photo show highlighting their work.


Schoolchildren in Connecticut have made connections with students in The Gambia:

Students in Milford CT collected computers to donate, participate in frequent Skype sessions, and provide photo and other supplies

Students in Bridgeport CT participated in the traveling photo show, and have helped launch a Photo Pals program.

Students in a Fairfield CT high school have held fundraising events to support the Starfish students’ education, and some have traveled with Humanity Now to The Gambia to teach, too.

Students in Trumbull, CT formed a book club with Starfish students in The Gambia.