Women’s Forum: Why did you choose to be a speaker at the Women’s Forum Mauritius 2016?
Sustainable development is the crucial question of our generation—how do we ensure that the economic system supports everyone and protects the planet at the same time? The voice of women is particularly important in this discussion as women are often most disadvantaged in the current system. The Women’s Forum not only gives voice to the challenges that women face in this area but also serves to highlight the leadership role women are playing in developing a more just and environmentally sustainable society.
Women’s Forum: Tell us more about SEED and its mission.
SEED works with green social enterprises in developing countries to help create a vibrant and resilient entrepreneurial sector. We believe that as we look to address today’s environmental and social questions, the role of entrepreneurs will be critical in discovering new models of development that serve entire societies, including those at the bottom of the pyramid.
Our work focuses on providing business support to SMEs throughout Africa, India, Asia and Latin America. We also look to help develop the ecosystem around green SMEs by training service providers, connecting different stakeholders, creating policy recommendations based on our grassroots experience and working to link entrepreneurs with investors.
Women’s Forum: In your opinion, what are the best ways to promote affordable products while being ecosystem-responsible in Africa and Small Island Developing States like Mauritius?
I think there are two answers to that question. First I think we need to reevaluate our definition of development away from consumption and from having more to living better. We need to stop focusing on products and “things” and more about how we want to live our lives. But at the same time there is an undeniable need for many in Africa and Small Island Developing States to have access to products to improve their lives and to do so we need to start thinking about the entire lifecycle of a product. We need to start developing products that aren’t meant to be simply thrown away but rather used through a variety of incarnations. In doing so, we’ll start to eliminate waste from the production system and ensure that islands like Mauritius are able to protect their natural resources and beauty.