Empowering women and children is a necessary right. It is also highly important for the sustainable development of society! One of the local associations widely involved in this process is WE Empower! Founded by Georgina Ragaven, this NGO helps bring women and children to the forefront of society through various training programs and coaching. Georgina Ragaven talks to Afm.media about the objectives of WE Empower as well as the impact of Covid-19 on women entrepreneurs in Mauritius.
You are the founder and chairperson of the NGO WE Empower, could you please let us know more about it? What it stands for and who you are helping?
Georgina Ragaven: Empower a Woman and you Empower her Family and Community! Empower a Child and you Empower the Future Leaders of the World! This is our motto!
Empowering women and children has always been my passion, to see these women succeed, to see these children grow up and live their dreams … and WE Empower was my dream! This platform came into being because there was a need for an association dedicated to preparing the future leaders of Mauritius. We are not talking about 2030 anymore, we are focusing on the next 50 years of independence for these women and children.
We want to empower women and children from all spheres of society through entrepreneurship, development networking by creating the right environment for women to meet and share, coaching, mentoring or even capacity building.
WE Empower is here to:
- help integrate women in society and to accompany them in becoming empowered;
- help ensure a secure environment and improve conditions for girls to succeed in having a good education;
- fight against all forms of violence towards women with a specific focus on domestic violence;
- share insights with women and children on how to create positive relationships.
We work closely with shelters and NGOs as well so as to help the residents and future leaders of Mauritius and the region! Since WE Empower came into being, a number of projects have already been realized especially for Women Entrepreneurship Development with various stakeholders which includes public, private and international partners
How do WE Empower contribute to help reach the goal of independence for women?
Georgina Ragaven: One of the main projects WE Empower offers is Entrepreneurship Development Skills across the island to encourage women to become economically independent as entrepreneurs! This training program – 10 to 12 weeks – usually covers a list of our selected modules, but it can also be tailor-made to suit the needs of all training institutions or partners.
For them to be fully prepared to start this new life, we also provide courses on various themes like: Self-esteem/Finding your Voice; Goal setting; Critical thinking; Decision-making; Preparing a business plan; Entrepreneur Lifecycle; Time Management; Finance – Part 1 Balance Sheet, P&L, VAT; Finance – Part 2 Costing/Determining profits/budget forecasting Marketing; Use of social media; Customer care; Work Life balance – Stress Management; Innovation; Creativity for sustainable business; PR & Communication; IT Literacy; Platforms to join and Networking The Way Forward.
As Covid-19 has been our reality for a long time now, did this pandemic change the game for those you are helping?
Georgina Ragaven: Yes, it definitely has! A lot of women entrepreneurs we collaborate with were just starting to look forward to a new lease of life, a new breath of fresh air for their businesses when it all happens. After the lockdown in 2020, we were all becoming optimistic about 2021 and then the 2nd lockdown hit us hard. Many of these women were starting to rebuild or reinvent their business ventures. They were looking at recreating themselves and creating new avenues of survival for them and their family! With the second lockdown, things went back to uncertainty and stress levels ran high for so many because it was time, again, to innovate for business survival and to rebuild the confidence as entrepreneurs.
Faced with postponed projects, cancelled orders, waste of raw materials or rising costs for import and export, we had no choice but to master the art of survival, innovation, collaboration and agility! The knock-on effect is being felt in many different ways and it is still far from over. It is now, not only an economic problem, but also a social issue now.
And how did WE Empower intervene during these hard times?
Georgina Ragaven: During both lockdowns, 2020 and 2021, WE Empower was just a call away for women entrepreneurs who reach out to us and to those who have trained with us. Afterwards, we started a project to train women entrepreneurs and prepare them to pitch for seed money to either start or expand their business that took life during the last confinement.
Having learnt from the last lockdown the importance of IT literacy skills as a means of survival for these entrepreneurs, WE Empower in collaboration with the British High Commission and NPCC, also conducted a 12-week training program to empower 36 women entrepreneurs in IT and digital skills. We also offered on-line motivational and training sessions during the lockdowns or even helped with sharing information regarding WAP applications or about all the schemes.
Do you have any new projects underway?
Georgina Ragaven: WE Empower is currently involved with two projects with JCI: one is the mentoring of young people and the other one an on-line training for entrepreneurs especially in the Eco/Green economy sectors.
WE Empower has just launched Lottoseeds 2021 and we are busy preparing for that: it is a training program in collaboration with Lottotech that helps women entrepreneurs in Mauritius and Rodrigues to develop and showcase their qualities and business ventures. Many more projects are also in the pipeline and should be out this year and early 2022.