When I visit Bruno Lanceleur's workshop in the north of Mauritius he is just preparing a shipment of Tee Shirts to Spain. His company, Baobab, designs, produces and exports ecological cotton shirts also to La Réunion, Mayotte, Martinique, Guadeloupe, or Antigua. He has clients in South Africa, Senegal and Zanzibar too. "Seychelles would be a much desired destination" says Bruno "but it is very hard to find a salesman there".
On the other hand, the world market may open up to Baobab as recently Bruno, who formerly performed in a jazz band, started co- branding with the Playing for Change. The movement created to connect the world through music, is close to Bruno's heart. It was born from the belief he shares: that art can break down boundaries and overcome distances between people.
Baobab is certified by ECOCERT and GOTS and wishes to create indivisible link between values and business.
The workshop in Mauritius employs 25 persons, coming from Mauritius, France, Rwanda and Bangladesh. The sister company in Madagascar gives employment to 25 more. Bruno learned through his own experience how much trust is important in business. In Madagascar, the sales of Baobab products went up 20 to 30% in just 4 months after recent peaceful Presidential elections. Politics has a direct impact on small business, everything is interconnected. For example, the sales dramatically went down in Zanzibar and Senegal following the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015.
It is the local market in Mayotte that saved Baobab at the harsh times when tourist arrivals decreased. The brand became recognised and appreciated by youth who started to buy Baobab Tee Shirts to go out to clubs.
Bruno started doing designs by himself, but now he is working as well with professional designers across the world, helped by his wife Dhorenne. His ambition would be to get better machines and access to finance as demand is picking up.