Africa-Press – Mauritius. The Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), Mrs Louise Mushikiwabo, met with entrepreneurs of the Entreprendre au Féminin Ocean Indien (EFOI) Association- Mauritius, this morning, in Curepipe.
The visit was undertaken in the context of the project “Economic empowerment of women through new technologies of banana fibres” carried by EFOI Association – Mauritius, who is also the winner of the “Francophonie avec Elles” fund 2021.
In a statement, Mrs Louise Mushikiwabo highlighted that this visit forms part of a much wider visit in the Indian Ocean region where the francophone community has invested considerably, an example being Mauritius which is a founding country of the Organisation.
This visit, she underlined, is much more extensive and has as objective to strengthen the relations that exist between the Organisation and the member countries.
“It is a visit that allows us to listen to our States, the population, the civil society, among others, so as to ensure that the programmes designed from the OIF’s headquarters in Paris are in line with the needs on field,” Mrs Mushikiwabo pointed out.
Furthermore, the Secretary-General emphasised that the visit to this women’s enterprise is an important one as it falls within the framework of the OIF’s support to women’s economic activity through a Fund that was created during the pandemic period in 2020.
The objective of the Fund, she indicated, was to provide support to women who were severely affected by the pandemic and the lockdown as they had to stop working, and, not being on the payroll, found themselves in a situation of precarity. On this note, Mrs Mushikiwabo stressed that the Fund has been able to assist several women as observed today, with a project for the future.
“It is a matter of great pride for me to realise that the impact of the fundings, though limited, on the community of women in this country is real as it has allowed them to remain active, to work, to support their families, and to learn,” she stated.
The Secretary-General further added that this project with banana fibre is one that is rather advanced and futuristic as we remain in a context of proper biodiversity as well as that of using the natural resources of our land to sustain ourselves.
“I am going back to Paris with the satisfaction of having seen that this Fund, “la Francophonie avec Elles”, is raising the standard of living of women and helping them create resources for their families,” she informed.
On this score, Mrs Mushikiwabo stressed that according to her, this project should benefit from additional resources in order to reach more women so that they are able to go further using different technologies that can be used with banana fibre.
For her part, the President of the EFOI Association-Mauritius, Ms Nadine Pierre, recalled that since 2001, the EFOI Association gathers women entrepreneurs of micro enterprises and promotes entrepreneurship.
“EFOI is a platform gathering countries such as Réunion Island, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rodrigues and Seychelles and is supported regionally by the Indian Ocean Commission during steering committees among others,” she pointed out.
In addition, she indicated that the idea of extracting banana fibre came from Ex-SMEDA, now known as the Small and Medium Enterprise Mauritius Ltd, who organised a seminar in 2013 on banana fibre with the help of Indian experts.
“Since that time, we reached out for support from several institutions and organisations and have been able to successfully integrate this project and we hope to continue in our endeavours to gain competences to and produce both functional and decorative products with high market value in this field in the future and at the same time empower women economically through new technologies as regards banana fibres,” she concluded.