Driven by the desire to conserve the Ivorian natural heritage of Attécoubé, the associations Train and Travel and Learning for ALL have joined forces to launch an ecotourism training project. Train and Travel is an organisation that promotes women entrepreneurship in Ivory Coas through international solidarity. Its partner Learning for ALL wants to bridge the digital gap for people in rural communities through training in digital tools.
Meeting with Alexandra Yepmo (Train & Travel) and Jean-Michel Ngissan (Learning for All)
The economic empowerment programme proposed by the pair enables 35 women to train as tourist guides and to develop digital skills. The conservation of Attécoubé’s heritage is an essential requirement for attracting tourists. The association uses these visits to make citizens aware of environmental preservation. The organizations want them to understand that their cultural and natural heritage can become a source of income. To do this, locals are made aware of the need to maintain cleanliness and are involved in clean-up days. ‘Generally, once every two months, we conduct clean-up activities that involve the whole population, because we cannot organize a guided expedition in a dirty place. We do cultural and educational activities to convince them.’
This initiative aims to train women in sustainable tourism and in different IT tools. These young women are experiencing great precariousness and need opportunities for the future.
– Maximizing the human potential of Attécoubé
As well as being an economic empowerment project, this programme has the potential to lift an entire community out of economic insecurity. As Alexandra Yepmo, a member of Train and Travel’s board member, explains:
‘All the people who participate in our training are from disadvantaged communities. We train young women who live in Attécoubé and give guided tours. We can’t just borrow labour and move them to a city they don’t know. We try to see the economic and tourism potential of the community, showing them that they can do business there. The good thing is that when we do a tour, the people in the village who have a bar or a small food shop can also benefit from the tourists who visit.’
Beyond the tourism aspect, the young women also need to be able to manage the administrative aspect, and Learning for All supports them in this. ‘They need to master computer tools. They need to be able to use social networks and make budget forecasts and calculations. We take care of the digital side.’ says Jean-Michel Ngissan, President of Learning for All.
– About the partner associations
What makes Train and Travel so special is that it is at the forefront of urban ecotourism. ‘COVID has slowed down our activities, but we already had a particular approach. We didn’t have to make many adjustments. Before the pandemic, we only accepted 15 people per guided visit because we have always prioritised community experience over mass tourism.’ says Alexandra Yepmo.
TRAIN & TRAVEL is a local tourism association that provides opportunities for women to be trained in tourism. Since 2017, the association has trained 100 young women to work or invest in community and solidarity tourism. It is the only association in Côte d’Ivoire that offers opportunities in sustainable tourism to young women. TRAIN & TRAVEL has received 350 travellers from 20 different countries.
Learning for All is a non-governmental organisation that promotes the use of Information and Communication Technologies and the practice of computer skills among young girls and children, mainly the most disadvantaged who have difficult access to computers.