Robertson Outdoor Bursary

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It is an undeniable fact that the team who support you to climb Kilimanjaro make the experience truly magical. Their unwavering encouragement, superhuman fitness and polite, calm manner are a huge part of the reason for our great success rate on Kili. Many guests have built up strong relationships with the porters and guides on their climb and have heard the incredible stories of resilience and courage that have lead them to working on the mountain. So it isn't surprising at all, when they get in touch asking how they can give back to this community.

We have partnered with a charity called Robertson Outdoor Bursary to provide a service where guests can sponsor porters through the Mountain Guide License award and help them to create a better life for themselves. 

Our Partner 

Robertson Outdoor Bursary (ROB) are a UK Registered Charity set up by a Yvonne Robertson in 2013, who provide sponsored places for porters on the Guide Licence Training Scheme at the College for African Wildlife Management (CAWM).  The charity was formed when Yvonne climbed Kilimanjaro over 10 years ago and wanted to give back to the incredible community that had a strong impact on her whilst climbing. Much the same as lots of our guests, Yvonne was looking for a trustworthy company that could provide a scheme in which she could support porters to complete their guide scheme. However, having little success finding one that offered what she was looking for, she set up her own.  Since then, the company has helped 150 Tanzanians receive education and now, working alongside CAWM they select candidates with drive and passion and help to develop the next generation of highly competent, qualified guides to lead groups up Africa's highest mountain.

They strive to do this through:  

·       Funding educational bursaries -  Enabling awardees to gain qualifications, expertise and opportunities that would otherwise be beyond their reach. 

·       Equipping mountain staff with technical kit through partnership working - Enhancing safety on the mountain.
·       Inspiring their awardees to believe in their own self-worth - Motivating them to improve their knowledge and skills.
·       Ensuring that all their potential awardees are given equal access to training courses without negative discrimination - Specifically targeting women and disadvantaged people; the charity provides equipment for camping on college grounds whilst completing their qualification and any technical kit they do not currently own for practical training and assessment. 
·       Empowering awardees to transform their lives and the lives of their families - Developing their confidence and future aspirations.

What does the CAWM Guide License award involve?

In 2013, the Tanzanian Government implemented a law that stated all “tour guides should be registered, certified and licensed in order to operate in the tourism industry”. On Kili, the awarding of licenses fell to CAWM.

The Mountain Guide License scheme is a 3-week program run by the College of African Wildlife Management CAWM) in which applicants will undergo training in Basic First Aid, Flora and Fauna, Mountain Safety and Customer Service. They will then complete a written exam and field exam on Kili. If they are able to display a good level of competence in both these exams, they will be awarded their guide’s license.

What can you do to support a porter?

There are three different ways you can support a porter in becoming a guide:


Each August and January, the charity asks us for nominations of porters who we feel are worthy of a place on the guide scheme. These nominees will then be asked to meet certain criteria before coming for a selection interview, undertaken with the charity's Tanzanian Advisor - Paulo Sanare Laizer. If they are able to meet all the criteria they will then be offered a sponsored place on the guide scheme. If you feel your porter would be a good candidate for the course but is unable to provide the funds for it themselves then let us know and we can nominate them!


You can choose to donate a one-off payment that will go towards sponsoring a place on the guide scheme.


To sponsor a full place on a 3-week guide scheme costs $360. Unfortunately, you can’t choose the porter you will be sponsoring, however, this money will go towards one of the nominees who has undergone the selection process, so if you wish to nominate a porter alongside your sponsorship and they are offered a place then your money will be funding a place on the program they will complete.

Do porters have to be nominated to get the bursary?

No, the bursary is open to any candidates who wish to apply, and porters can apply themselves via Robertson Outdoor Bursary website. The charity have found however, that porters who are nominated by their employees tend to become the most competent guides and have a greater chance of employment once their award is complete.

What is the selection process?

Porters who are nominated or apply themselves for the bursary, will undergo a selection process to ensure they are the right candidates for the Guide program:

·       Initially they must meet the criteria of the College of African Wildlife Management, which includes: holding at least an Ordinary Certificate of Secondary Education (OCSE)/ any other recognized qualification and being a member of a recognized Mountain Guides Association in Tanzania.

·       They must also be able to speak and write in English – this is assessed with a short, written test in English and a selection interview completed in English.

·       Finally, applicants must have already worked in the tourism industry, preferably as a porter or cook on Kili so they are used to the fitness levels required on the mountain.

ROB have specific funding for female participants and so strongly encourage their applications, however they must still meet all the criteria so where they can’t fill these spaces, funding is held until the next lot of recruitment and male applicants will be given the spaces.


What should I do to get involved?

Get in touch! When you submit your interest in supporting a porter or getting involved in the charity, a member of our team will contact you to discuss which method of support you would like to offer. Your choice of support will then be processed, at which point you will receive further information about where and how your money is supporting the Guide program and how to follow their progress.