Mauritius: Hanshini

Date: October 9, 2019
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From being a full-time housewife to managing a constantly innovating entrepreneurial endeavor, Hanshini shares that her progress is fueled by the positive impact her work generates on customers. Initially driven by the need to financially help her household, she started by taking small orders of sweet delicacies from people in her neighborhood. With a view to further hone her skills and completely delve into the entrepreneurial field, Hanshini joined an entrepreneurship course offered by the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority (SMEDA) of Mauritius. That course acted as a compass, and repositioned the needle of Hanshini’s life, giving her a sense of clarity about which direction to take. After gaining a notion of the technicalities behind operating a business, she shares that business and environment-friendly practices are often viewed as mutually exclusive events. Hence, the course piqued her interest in earning money but in manner that has a long-term, positive impact on the environment.

So strong was her resolve that she resorted to the internet to educate herself on the creation of sustainable and eco-friendly goods using recycled products. As Hanshini says, many products within arm’s reach could be recycled and reused, instead of being thrown away in dumpsters, taking decades before being decomposed. Motivated by this idea, she started collecting discarded boxes, plastic containers, compact discs, and other common non-biodegradable objects and converted them into attractive end products. For instance, she used boxes and containers to make trays, and further added her personal touch by decorating the end products with ribbons, decorative fabrics, paint, amongst others. Gradually, orders for weddings, birthdays and several special occasions started flooding in and, Hanshini noticed an increase in the demand for rattan products, or “produits rotin” in the Mauritian jargon. Since she had no knowledge in making rattan products, her only recourse was to purchase those, which cost a lot of money. Hence, to better manage her capital and prevent unnecessary expenses, she enrolled in a fibrecraft course offered by the SMEDA. Soon, Hanshini started manufacturing her own rattan products from scratch, and incorporated that technique into her business.

Starting from a mini-business of sweets’ production to managing a business that converts recycled items into useful goods, Hanshini’s path was carved with a lot of difficulties and competition. But, she revels in her determined spirit and need to constantly innovate, which compel her to constantly upgrade her business with emerging styles and materials and keep her production in vogue. She always goes beyond her own expectations, refusing to only implement what she has learnt theoretically, but also including her personal touch in the materialization of good, honing its final gleam. Hanshini narrates that, she has always persevered and modernized her productions, shaping her own path uphill always putting her brave front forth to difficulties and drawbacks. For instance, she never gave up making sweets or delicacies- in fact, she complemented the creation of decorative trays for events by her cooking talent. She made sure to bind both her works together and started offering wedding and engagement packs- the trays crafted with recycling goods were filled with homecooked sweets. As she reminisced with a nostalgic flair, “That’s what entrepreneurship means: always be prepared to adapt and innovate. Failure is never an option.”

One of the efforts to increase the customer base of her products, Hanshini lays a lot of emphasis on the quality of production. As she reiterated multiple times, she believes that quality is the decisive factor in attracting clients, irrespective of other factors. Hence, she tries of craft her products in such a way that they do not seem to be constructed from a recycled base. In fact, Hanshini takes a lot of pride in her professional reputation in manufacturing goods with a clean and alluring finish. Additionally, she testifies spending equal time in perfecting the packing of her goods, since the packaging is subject to the first opinion of the client. Simultaneously, with an aim of increasing visibility, Hanshini has created a Facebook page known as “Hanshini Creations and Catering Services” with over 200 followers, where she advertises her products. She has uploaded over fifty pictures sampling her products, and shares that Facebook is a great platform to increase her pool of clients. A lot of potential clients like the pictures of products uploaded, leave behind encouraging and constructive comments while previous clients leave positive reviews, boosting future orders.

Hanshini is also registered as a “Woman Entrepreneur” at the Women Entrepreneur Council of Mauritius, where she is informed of any upcoming fairs, namely Expoventes. This represents an ideal platform to display her products, expand her client base and network with fellow entrepreneurs. Generally, during these fairs, Hanshini shares her business cards to customers impressed by her work. She also shared that she is very satisfied with the way she is handling her business and its gradual growth. Finances are duly managed in a notebook, detailing all cash flows. The capital for investment is divided into different categories to ensure maximum utility- part of it is stored as liquid cash while the other is used to buy materials as stock. This is to ensure that she is always prepared in case of any last-minute or large and lucrative orders. It is an assurance that she has her stock of products ready to be exploited by the demands of clients. Concerning pricing, Hanshini sets affordable prices for her products, catering to both clients and her. Prices are set in a way that the client is satisfied with their product, and at the same time Hanshini is able to reap in a small, but considerable profit in the long run. Profits generated are divided in the same way as capital: a fraction is used to account for domestic expenses and the other is stored as savings.

In the long-term, Hanshini wants to expand her business not only through the production and sale of goods, but also through education of people around her. She aspires to tutor budding entrepreneurs or people eager to learn the skills of working with recycled goods or production of rattan goods. However, these goals are not dreams without a purpose. Hanshini has already taken a step forward in that area, by partnering with an organization in her locality to impart the skills that she has learnt from several formal courses to vulnerable kids who are school dropouts and living in sacks of poverty. She wants to use her knowledge in recycling and rattan to help these kids take control and direct their lives. The project is expected to be on floors during the next school holiday season. Additionally, she wants to attain more clients and further expand her business by opening her own her own shop in the future, and even possibly extending her business overseas by exporting her products. With all these dreams brimming in her eyes, Hanshini describes being in a sweet spot where she can revel in the time spent with her business, home and children, all while being able to positively impact her community. As she says, that’s all one needs in live, or in her own words “Ki bizin encore dans la vie?”

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