Success Story from the Gambia: Modou Basirr Leigh, Youth Leader


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Modou Basirr Leigh was born in 1989 in Serrekunda, a large town in the Gambia. Serrekunda is a place with strong cultural and religious traditions where Muslims and Christians enjoy good relations. Modou’s parents viewed education as the most essential aspect of their children’s development. Modou was fortunate to attend some excellent, although not very expensive schools. He began his education at Nyokoi Nursery School and completed Serrekunda Primary School passing his Common Entrance Examination with distinction. While attending Serrekunda Primary School, Modou was privileged to have wonderful teachers who took a keen interest in him and who served as a source of inspiration.

Mr. Leigh continued his education at the Charles Jaw Memorial Academy. At the age of 14 he became the youngest member of an organization called Youth in Development and Change (YIDAC). YIDAC was full of fine role models and a wonderful place for self-development. Mr. Leigh attended Nusrat Senior Secondary School and joined the Gambia Youth Actors Association when he graduated in June 2008.The Gambia Youth Actors Association promotes the culture of the Gambia through performances and the production of films. The organization also promotes unity among youths. Mr. Leigh served as the organization’s Public Relations Officer from June –August 2010 and as its Vice President from August 2010 to December 2012.

In August 2010 Mr. Leigh gained admission to the University of the Gambia where he became very involved in campus activities and leadership roles. The first organization Mr. Leigh joined was the Economics and Management Sciences Association (ECOMANSA) in the University of The Gambia’s School of Business and Public Administration. ECOMANSA provides a platform for students to meet with prospective employers and mentors, participate in exchange programs with other universities, and discuss political, economic, and social issues. Mr. Leigh served as ECOMANSA’s Public Relations Officer and as a mentor for first year students.

Other youth and voluntary organizations in which Mr. Leigh has been active include the Gambia Family Planning Association (GFPA), The Gambia Red Cross Society, The Eye Magazine, and The Young Entrepreneurs Association of the Gambia, of which he is a co-founder. From June 2009 to December 2010 Mr. Leigh took part in organizing seminars, drama competitions, and outreach programs to enlighten youths about reproductive health and rights through GFPA, and its youth program, New World for Youth. As a co-founder of his local Red Cross Society and Link Leader for the organization, Mr. Leigh served as the liaison between his local Red Cross Link and the national office of the Red Cross Society in the Gambia from June 2010 to June 2012. Mr. Leigh also served as a reporter and columnist at The Eye Magazine. The Eye Magazine is largely run by young people. It publishes on social issues to bring about positive changes in society. Mr. Leigh co-founded the Young Entrepreneurs Association of the Gambia at the end of a university course called Entrepreneurship and Development in an effort to change youths’ mindsets from job seekers to job providers. Since its inception Mr. Leigh has organized workshops, entrepreneurs’ training programs and mentorship programs through the organization.

Impressively, while engaging in so much volunteer work and attending university classes, Mr. Leigh also worked as a Call Center Operator at Africell Gambia Limited, the largest telecommunication company in the Gambia. Mr. Leigh did very well at his job and was promoted just few months after being hired to Assistant Call Center Supervisor and later to a Call Center Supervisor. Mr. Leigh had to save up to 75 percent of his monthly salary to pay his tuition. He biked from work to the university daily and often would deny himself food to save money. He graduated from the University of The Gambia in June 2014 with a degree in Management.

Upon graduation Mr. Leigh was made Administrator and Human Resource Assistant for the Africell call center, now called the 24/7 Call Center Ltd. The position involved the recruitment and training of staff and helped Mr. Leigh further develop his leadership skills. In November 2014 Mr. Leigh said goodbye to Africell when Skye Bank Gambia Limited offered him the chance to work in banking as a Business Development Officer.

In March 2015 Mr. Leigh became the Executive Coordinator of the Sabally Leadership Academy which is headed by Mr. Momodou Sabally, a prominent motivational speaker and author of Instant Success: Ten Keys to Personal Achievement. The Academy encourages its members to explore their inner selves and define their true calling and purpose in life. Many of its members have gone on to start up personal initiatives, as encouraged by Mr. Sabally in his talks.

In May 2015, the non-profit organization Give 1 Project opened a chapter in The Gambia. With the addition of the Gambian chapter the Give 1 Project spread its operations to 28 countries. The Give 1 Project connects and empowers young people to build strong and healthy communities. Mr. Leigh served as the Deputy Executive Secretary and Farm Manager of the Give 1 Project Gambia through August 2015. They organized monthly meetings to enhance the organization’s projects, including promoting the use of technology in agriculture and supporting technology camps for girls.

Since early September 2015, Mr. Leigh has been pursuing a Master’s Degree in International Business Management at the University of Oulu in Finland where he also serves as Alumni Ambassador, a position through which he shares information about the university with prospective students.

Based on the literature on international development and personal success, why has Mr. Modou Basirr Leigh been so successful in his undertakings?

Some key characteristics come to mind:

Mr. Leigh understands the value of ROLE MODELS, from his teachers in primary school to serving as a role model for others in his surroundings and beyond. Mr. Leigh has tried to live by the inspiring words of former US President John F. Kennedy, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Mr. Leigh has focused on gaining the knowledge he needs to serve as an effective youth leader. He SETS GOALS and WORKS HARD. He has a POSITIVE OUTLOOK, pleasing personality, and a strong determination to succeed. He recently started on his long-term goal of establishing his own international sportswear company that will not only help people to earn a living, but to enrich the world through its health-oriented offerings.

By Heidi G. Frontani



  1. Mariam lee · · Reply

    Keep it brother. I am very proud of you


  2. Samba Bah · · Reply

    It is pleasing to see young Gambian’s making extraordinary headway in making the world a better place for all. Congrats Leigh.


  3. Cherno B. Jallow · · Reply

    Congrats to you my brother. Keep it up.


  4. Kemo Kanuteh · · Reply

    Keep it up.. Congrats


  5. Well done. Hard work always pay. Like they say it is only in the dictionary where success come before work.


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