Yabouy Home Cooking is a catering business started by Gambian, Ida Cham Njai, at her home in Brufut, Gambia. Njai also offers cooking courses while promoting the cultural values of the Gambia and tourism in a sustainable manner.
Beginnings and Growth
Ida Cham Njai was born in Gambia in 1964. Her family was not well to do and as a result, out of the 5 sisters, only 2 could be educated. Njai was among the 2. In 1988, she graduated from the West London College UK with a degree in Hotel, Tourism and Catering Management. She returned back home to Gambia the following year.
Her first job was at the Senegambia Beach Hotel as a Food and Beverage Coordinator. Later, she moved to Public Relations and eventually, Sales and Marketing. As a Sales and Marketing Manager, Njai was able to represent Gambia in a couple of tourism fairs and exhibitions around the world. Currently, her profile is still used in many of the Gambian publicity materials.
From 2006-2008, she worked as the General Manager of Makasutu Cultural Forest. And from 2009-2010, as Chair of the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism in the Gambia. Here, Njai recorded a significant amount of success in terms of new implementations.
In 2008, she attended a course in Taiwan on Community Based Tourism. It was from this that she got so inspired to start her own business. Soon after, Njai resigned from her job and Yabouy Home Cooking was born in September of that same year.
Yabouy Home Cooking
Yabouy means “mother” in Njai’s dialect and is a tribute to her enterprising mother who passed on in 2005 at the age of 84. Like her daughter, Njai’s mother was a business owner who started out selling peanuts at the local market. Due to her 20 years+ in the tourism industry and expertise, Yabouy Home Cooking easily gained success in the Gambia.
From 2013, Njai through her business has been commissioned by the Gambia Tourism Board to be conducting training programmes on Gambian Cooking with Community Based Tourism businesses in the country. In 2013, She also started Yabouy Charity. This is a charity aimed at improving the livelihoods of women in the surrounding communities. How it does this is through meaningful socio-economic and environmental initiatives such as microfinance.
In 2017, Ida Cham Njai was recognized as the African Travel 100 Women Winner. Yabouy Home Cooking has also been featured in a 2019 CNN’s Inside Africa Segment on Sustainable Tourism dubbed Oyster Ladies of the Gambia. Watch it below courtesy of Sallah Sallah’s YouTube Channel under the title Oyster Business in Gambia;
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