Mauritius – Association Pour L’Education Des Enfants Defavorisés (APEDED) ensuring economic growth of women through micro enterprise

Date: June 12, 2019
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Operating in the field of poverty alleviation, APEDED provides education and basic necessities to underprivileged children at pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels. It primarily works with school drop-outs. In 2007, given the high rate of unemployment among women in the region of Chemin-Grenier, the organisation established a medicinal plant nursery on the roof of the APEDED school.

The project aims to simultaneously preserve native species and protect biodiversity, and to help women attain the financial autonomy. APEDED offers job opportunities to women who have lost their jobs and are victims of poverty. Its elders and professionals then share their knowledge to these women and offer them training on the harvesting of native plants and cultivation of medicinal plants.  Consequently, these women become financially independent and are also aware of environmental issues.

The main activities are:

  • Establishment of a greenhouse.
  • Awareness raising on the properties of medicinal plants and its biodiversity value and use
  • Capacity building for the cultivation of the medicinal plants
  • Additional training was provided on how to use the equipment to dry and package the leaves for commercialization.
  • APEDED has registered its herbal tea brand, Secret Grand Mère, with the Ministry of Industry in Mauritius.
  • The herbal tea, “Secret Grand-Mère”, has been prepared from the medicinal plants.
  • APEDED now produces over 20,000 packets of the herbal tea on a monthly basis, for both local and international customers.
  • After an increase in energy use, APEDED decided to innovate by using renewable energy in 2012. It installed photovoltaic solar panels and now produces its own electricity and to sell the surplus to the grid. Cost of production and impact on climate change have thus reduced and income has increased.

The project provides green jobs directly to 20 women. It hence helps to contribute in household expenses and empowers women instead of creating an assisted community. It indirectly benefits 12 women and 16 men from whom it buys medicinal plants. Furthermore, the project reaches 115 direct beneficiaries, precisely 106 women and 9 men. Its indirect beneficiaries consist of over 30 female students and of over 3 male students.

They have provided 35 varieties of medicinal plants to Keats Colleges, and this project is in place there. The students converted an unused area of land into a medicinal garden within 18 months.Awareness of those plants have been created and students have developed a new skill by planting thoese medicinal plants. APEDED is also in the process of developing a resource book , which will be launched soon. This book contains names and properties of medicinal plants which can be planted and consumed.

Global Environment Facility Small Grants allocated $25, 397.49 to this project. The British High Commission and the European Union allocated $4117.26 and $16300 respectively. APEDED itself had a financial input of $3401.47. Funding was received for only 12 months and the project has now become income-generating.

The association organises meetings regularly with these women. The projects of APEDED follow an action plan with KPIs as per the requirement of the funding agencies who also ask for formative evaluation reports.

The association seeks to create a trusting environment for women and to work WITH them. Initially men were reluctant to join in. The project attempts to be inclusive and encourages men to be part of their endeavour.

Women have been empowered and are now participating in the economic growth. There has been a decrease in domestic violence (8 among 20 benficiaries were victims of domestic violence). In Rodrigues, 88 women and 6 men have been trained in cultivation and transformation of medicinal plants. They have consequently been able to upgrade their existing businesses or have created small business (candle, herbal tea, soap, plantation).  Medicinal plants gardens have been set up in 10 colleges of Mauritius and Rodrigues as part of the Switch Africa Green programme. The project hence has a positive environmental impact.

In order to implement such a project, one needs proper training, good leadership and a committed team. Such a project initially may necessitate funding but it ultimately can become income-generating and financially independent.

Sustainable Methodology adopted by APEDED :

Funds were raised and then they have contacted 10 colleges, 8 in Mauritius and 2 in Rodrigues. The colleges were all around Mauritius- from Vacoas to Savanne, Grand Port. This projct was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Environment. Teachers, students, and parents ( from the Parents Teachers Association) come together and look after the medicinal gardens set up in those colleges.

Out of this project, students also created a composter and rain water harvesting to be more efficient and to reduce our carbon footprint. Students were trained how to used these methods and how to grow these plants in an organic manner – without any pesticides.

Read more about APEDED here.

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