Mauritius: Geraldine

Date: October 9, 2019
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Geraldine, a mother of three walks us through her journey from being miserable to success.

She opens up about how she was always a self doubting woman, she never believed in herself and her self esteem was no where to be found. Today She stands as a strong independent woman and she is going to take us through her journey of how she broke out of her shell made of doubt and a dark past to come to life. Geraldine used to cry about everything, whenever she felt helpless she would break down not knowing what to do. Whenever she faced emotional abuse or anything of this sort, she would just bottle everything up and not defend herself.

Two of Geraldine’s children do not live with her, they live with their father, her ex husband. Despite this, Geraldine makes a lot effort to meet up with her kids and bond with them but most of the times, her ex partner would not allow this. Today she says with the new found confidence she has because of gender links, she persists to see her kids until she does so. She says before she would bow down and not fight for whats hers but not anymore!

Her first encounter with gender links was back when she was following a course in a municipal center where she was learning embroidery since she was unemployed. Then she was approached to attend a workshop Gender Links was holding for women and she got interested and attended. Then she went to Rodrigues where she learned a lot of things and when she came back to Mauritius, she started making the indigenous products she learned but only gave them as gifts, but after meeting with gender links and her peers she realised she can do this as a business but still then she doubted if it would even work. Her work mainly consisted of embroidery and cloth related things and she saw that it really started to take off. She then expanded her business by making traditional dishes like the ‘’tourte Rodrigues’’ and ‘’piment ourite’’ etc.

She started selling her products through her friend. The latter started selling Geraldine’s products at her workplace and that’s where things really took off, she saw the real potential of the business she was anticipating to blossom. Then she started giving small portions of her products to neighbors and people around so that they are aware of the products she makes and most importantly, the quality.

Her business grew quickly through word of mouth and people soon knew her for her food!

But she faced challenges soon, since her clientele consists of mainly local people, and her food products were big in size, some of the clients couldn’t afford her products. So she asked them what she could do and reducing the portion as well as the price was the best alternative that would benefit both Geraldine and her loyal customers.

Geraldine says she still remembers an activity Gender Links made them do which comprised of the roots, the trunk and the branches of a tree which was related to her family and she got emotional.

She then took a stand and joined a job in a local Bakery that sent her to the hospitality industry. She says with her current job and her part time job, she stands strong and she can do whatever she wants for herself and even if she still has some issues in her new relationship, she knows that she can be independent and where to seek help if needed.

‘’Before I used to think that Businesses and earning money was more driven towards men and it was a man job, but after I started doing it I realised that us, women, we can do whatever men do as well and be equivalently if not more successful’’

Even though her husband still doubts her work, and he likes to take credit of her work, Geraldine defends herself saying if she didn’t persevere in what she’s doing, she wouldn’t be where she is today. It’s her hard work that brought her where she is today not her husband’s. And she now contributes a lot in her household finances, without her working, life would be tougher.

On a happier note, Geraldine’s work was always greatly appreciated by her clients and one day it so happened that one of her clients wanted to document her making her delicious products and put her on TV! At first she was reluctant but at the end she finally gave in after her client continuously asked her for weeks. She says she felt completely at ease and this made her feel like whatever she was doing was in fact of quality. Her interview came out last year on MBC the 28th November 2018, and she says she was extremely proud and felt on top of the world!

She also participated in a bread making contest where 2 of her creations were selected. She was very innovative and the stuff she made were very unique since she used local products and made food with a Mauritian twist.

Her future plans is that she really wants to open her own snack where she will make all the stuff people rave about or she wants to build another kitchen where she’ll be able to make more products. And she wants more women to start opening their own businesses, she wants women to realise their worth and bringing a change in their lives.

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