Learning from each other - Rural Women micro-entrepreneurs of two Indian Ocean islands come together – Day 3

Today we saw the pain, difficulties, hope and courage of the most vulnerable women of Mauritius. We witnessed how a small helping hand can go a long way…

The National Empowerment Foundation (NEF), funded by the Government of Mauritius, with an independent management, have set-up a series of programmes to help the most vulnerable people start micro-entrepreneurial activity and become self-sufficient. One of the programmes deals specifically with Unemployed Women and is led by a manager, Mr. Ram Jutliah. We especially mention him here for his incredible dynamism (which was really contagious!) and simple pragmatic ideas which have given many women hope to believe in themselves again.

Thanks to the Programme, women like Mrs. Jewalatoon and Mrs. Ramanjoloo, have found a new strength on which to keep going.

Mrs. Jewalatoon, a pretty lady with piercing grey eyes told us her touching story of how she was abandoned by her husband and how she was left to deal with a sick child, herself being slightly handicapped. The courage of this lady to take up the activity of making and selling snacks is inspirational to all. What started off as a small survival activity turned out to be a blossoming micro-enterprise involving now 12 workers making and packaging snacks which are sold throughout the island. But what impressed us the most is the vision of this lady to further expand her enterprise and to be free of all debts. The Malagasy ladies were greatly touched and learned that despite life’s continuous hardships, a strong will to persevere will always pave the way.

Mrs. Ramanjoloo, a small old lady with a huge heart, created an association called “Magic Fingers” here in Mauritius. It comprises a small group of ladies trained in patchwork making. The peculiarity of this group lies in the training of physically handicapped women to making patchwork. What started of as a leisure activity is now turning out to be income generating! Material for the patchwork is taken from cloth debris of textile factories. The patchwork is of really good quality with a continuous upward demand. The Physically Handicapped Centre of Rose-Hill now hosts its own little shop. The Malagasy ladies started comparing with what is being done for the handicapped in Madagascar where mainly religious institutions are involved in such activities. One of the Malagasy ladies is now seriously thinking of setting-up a network between the two countries on promoting the inclusion of handicapped women in possible income generating activities. If she succeeds, it will have been a great accomplishment.

Keep following our journey as we travel tomorrow to Rodrigues, a small island of 38,000 inhabitants, where more discoveries and experiences await us!
Les Femmes Entrepreneurs de l'Océan Indien s'échangent leurs Expériences – 3ième Jour
« Un coup de main pour vous mettre sur les pieds », telle est le la divise du National Empowerment Foundation (NEF). Les appuis en faveur des femmes sont à l’honneur, notamment à travers un système de profilage et d’orientation vers l’entreprise. L’approche utilisée par l’organisme se distingue surtout par la démarche participative adoptée dans la formulation des besoins, ainsi que la responsabilisation des femmes bénéficiaires tout au long du processus de formation : contribution aux coûts, obligation de résultats, etc.

Nous avons découvert avec intérêt le dynamisme des femmes entrepreneurs engagées au sein de l’association : « Entreprendre au féminin dans l’Océan Indien » - Nous avons été les témoins privilégiés de la signature de contrat entre le NEF et cette association pour la formation et le mentoring/tuteurage » d’autres femmes en phase d’acquérir les compétences et savoir-faire dans l’entreprenariat.

La journée, à travers les visites effectuées, a largement contribué à enrichir les connaissances sur la façon dont les femmes gèrent leurs activités. Trois mots clés sont à retenir pour expliquer le succès des entreprises féminines mauriciennes : ce sont la volonté, l’engagement et la persévérance.
Assistante du Programme FIDA PROSPERER