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You are one of the 70 Mauritians who have been to Puglia in Italy for a training programme in agribusiness. What did you learn from your training in Italy ?
Topics covered doing the training were numerous and included
Has it changed the way you manage your business? Do you see an impact in your performance?
The visit to Puglia has definitely changed the way I manage my business. We cannot copy and paste as the context, the environment, the standards, and equipment available differ from Italy and Rodrigues Island. Most agricultural farms there are vast, and plantations are being done on a large scale, compared to Rodrigues which is a small island. I have understood that when we add value to our products, the selling rate will definitely rise. Now, I have changed the packaging of my jam pots, they look more attractive and there is more demand . We had lunch in a guest house there which has integrated agricultural, farming activity with tourism, agritourism : it was amazing. Actually , I am operating a guest house and the remaining land nearby is being used for growing vegetables, and fruit plant. In the morning when we serve breakfast, most of the guests, especially those from European countries want to see the fruit with which I have made jam. That is why when I came back from Italy, I have applied for an agricultural land so as to do agritourism . During the harvesting period of beans for example, we will invite guests to come and spend some time with us on the field. When I will collect mangos, passion fruits to make desert, jam, punch, we wil l ask them to come and collect the fruits themselves . Afterwards, we could also show those who a re interested how to process the fruits.
Would you recommend such training in a European country to other women entrepreneurs?
Yes. For those who live in developing country like mine, this will enable them to see the difference with a developed one. Their mind set will change, they will think differently, will always try to present their products and services differently.
Why is women empowerment important ?
Fortunately, in Rodrigues, women’s economic contribution is recognized and their work is estimated at their right value. Most of the Rodrigues' entrepreneurs are women and for sure, they are the driving force of the Rodrigues economy mostly in the agricultural, handicraft, farming and fishing ( octopus) sectors. W omen entrepreneurs are being provide d with the opportunity to improve their products/service s , to undertake refr esher course and literacy course ( some of them do have the ‘savoir - faire but do not know how to write and read ) . When women get socially, psychologically and economically empowered , they build their families and their communities too. This enables them to become a role model for the children and for Rodrigues also. We need to empower women so as to reduce gender constraints and sex discrimination. Most of the time, when women are enabled to earn an income, they reinvest the money earned in their family and this definitely have a very positive impact on human development. Empowerment of women will help them get access to economic resources and job opportunities, skills development and market information; their ideas will be taken into consideration. "There is a Chinese proverb that says ’Women hold up half the sky’ so they need to form part of the society and be empowered and not left behind."