Learning from each other - Rural Women micro-entrepreneurs of two Indian Ocean islands come together – Day 6

Today was the big weekly market day at Port Mathurin! People from all over the island come to sell and buy locally made products. We saw the famous dried squids, a variety of handicrafts, fruits, vegetables, pickles, among other products. We were surprised to learn that some of the sellers had set up their stalls since 2:30 am! As we meandered our way through the friendly hustle and bustle of the market, we had the opportunity to discuss with some of the sellers and admire their colourful products.

At around 8:30 am it was our turn to set up our stalls! The Malagasy ladies set up their products on the long tables which consisted of aromatherapy clove oils, handicrafts (baskets, hats, purses, silk shawls), dried chillies, tropical fruit jams, etc.
The stalls were a success as we played typical Malagasy songs and encouraged people to approach us. Here, the Malagasy ladies had the valuable opportunity of mingling with the people of Rodrigues and making many contacts. Half a day passed with lots of colour, laughter and good humour.

The latter part of the day was spent visiting a few more sites. We met with two beneficiaries of the IFAD Rural Diversification Programme (RDP). The first lady, Mrs. Micheline, proudly showed us her 4 sows surrounded by a litter of piglets. Mrs. Micheline bought her female pigs with micro-credit from RDP, and her activity consists of breeding pigs and selling the piglets. This is currently her main source of income. The Malagasy ladies noted many similarities with how they rear pigs, and were able to pick up a few tips on how to improve their own activities. We see again the diversity of activities as Mrs. Micheline is also involved in fishing activities and rearing chickens. Next, we met Mrs. Messie, who rears goats and has been in the business since she was 15! In order to benefit from RDP’s micro-credit scheme, she decided to include 8 other people in the activity who are among the island’s unemployed. Here, the Malagasy ladies learned the importance of charity efforts as an essential pillar of economic development. This serves as a reminder that solidarity, trust and awareness remain among the main elements for successful community cohesion.