Business meetings happen a little differently in Sainte Luce. We're barefoot in a small, sandy hut, metres from one of the most beautiful, remote beaches we've ever seen. Speaking in a mix of Malagasy, French and English, Sarah looks over the months accounts with Esterline, the Head Embroiderer while a lemur rustles the trees outside the window.
SEED Madagascar works with the local community of Anosy in Southern Madagascar to protect the local environment and provide opportunities for education, health and business within the local villages.
SEED MADAGASCAR WORKS TO ASSIST THE PEOPLE OF MADAGASCAR TO ACHIEVE THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS BY RESPONDING TO THE MOST CRITICAL NEEDS OF THE COMMUNITIES IN THE ANOSY REGION.
Throughout Madagascar, women are often barred from accessing income-generative activities as a result of domestic responsibilities, cultural expectations and a lack of earning and educational opportunities. In Sainte Luce, the traditional income-generating activities for women include reed weaving and mangrove fishing with mosquito nets, both of which yield little income and are harmful to the environment. Most women therefore rely on the marginal fishing income of a husbands or fathers, perpetuating a cycle of dependency.
This lack of earning opportunities has further knock-on effects. Women feel like they don’t have the right to contribute to household discussions, and that they are not as well respected as men within the community. Studies have also shown that when women earn their own money, household spending on health and education increases – factors that are particularly important in this remote community where access to medical care and employment opportunities is traditionally limited.
Project Stitch Sainte Luce has provided embroidery training to over 100 women women in Sainte Luce. The original 21 embroiders have now become both mentors and trainers of the new cohort of embroiders. Phase IV of the project is focused on expanding, strengthening and increasing the independence of the Cooperative, positioning it to provide reliable incomes and long-term sustainable livelihoods to women in Sainte Luce, without external donor funding.
By drawing inspiration from the diverse local wildlife and beautiful natural landscapes, SEED Madagascar has enabled them to make a living by producing high-quality bags, purses and other accessories. We also provide English language classes, financial training and informal advice to encourage Stitch members to make well-informed decisions and act as mentors within their community.
We are now concentrating on scaling up both domestic and international market opportunities so that the Cooperative can continue to thrive and support more women in the communities of Sainte Luce and their families. We are also developing the business and communication skills necessary for the women to run the business independently into the future.
These women have used their increased incomes to achieve many things that we take for granted: they’re buying better food for their families, going to the doctor more often, and sending their children to school. Demonstrating true community spirit, the women have also been financially supporting others in the village, currently feeding over 200 people throughout Sainte Luce. We hope this will inspire other women to set-up similar initiatives, helping to fight poverty and promote gender equality throughout Madagascar.