As part of the activities related to the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme, SANBio is profiling female bioscientists and bioentrepreneurs working in the innovation space.
Mrs Anooradah Pooran is a woman of substance who has left her footprints in the social sector through her innovative social entrepreneurship projects to help vulnerable people around Mauritius to be self-sufficient in life. In 1996, Mrs Anooradah Pooran founded APEDED (Association Pour L’Education Des Enfants Defavorisés) as a school at Chemin Grenier, Mauritius, for needy children to access education, which otherwise they would have been unable to afford following a sudden closure of textile factories that had resulted in the loss of jobs for many local Mauritian citizens.
By 2002, the effects of job loss and poverty in the region were still being felt and Mrs Pooran decided to establish a medicinal plant nursery on the roof of the APEDED school and founded Secret Grand Mère' Co Ltd with the main objective of empowering women to become entrepreneurs at their respective residences. The project was initiated in order to help poor women from low-income families overcome financial challenges through the cultivation of medicinal plants and selling of the leaves to Secret Grand Mère Co Ltd which produces herbal fusion products. Through this project, many women have benefited from training that has enhanced their capabilities in understanding, cultivation and propagation of the medicinal plants. Other objectives of the project were to promote conservation of native medicinal plant species, as well as to revive the use of traditional medicinal plants in the country for relief of certain illnesses.
“Secret Grand-Mère”, (Grandma’s Secrets) are herbal teas prepared from 35 medicinal plants such as Cymbopogon citratus (Lemongrass), Stevia rebaudiana (Stevia), Piper betle (betel), Morinda citrifolia (Noni) and Ocimum tenuiflorum (Holy Basil). It is should be noted that the products are 100% organic and in this context the company has been HACCP certified since October 2016. 80% of the company’s production capacity is geared towards the local market and the remaining 20% for export, the main export markets being France, Reunion and China.The organisation is now producing its own electricity from renewable sources, earning additional income from the sale of excess electricity to the grid, and above all providing green jobs directly to 20 women and indirectly to 28 people from whom the medicinal plants are bought. Secret Grand Mère Co Ltd is also in the process of diversification, the first goal being the production of aromatherapy herbal soaps using medicinal plants.
'Secret Grand Mère' Co Ltd has been successful both nationally and internationally, and has bagged many international and national awards. In December 2015, the company was awarded the Small Enterprise Award for 2015 National Inclusive Business Award (NIBA). In the same year, the enterprise has been the winner of the Gender and Climate Change Award by Gender Links 2015 at the National Summit of Gender Links on the SADC Gender Protocol.
Mrs Pooran has been recognised for her work for APEDED and bestowed with the 1st prize for the NIBA (National Inclusive Business Award) in 2015 at National level from the Ministry of Business Enterprise and Cooperatives and the Emerging Exporters Gold Award from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in 2014. She also won the Green Africa Award 2013 in the category of Highly Commendable Award - African Women for Change. She has also received an award in recognition of her success in the use of medicinal plants from the Global Forum of Natural Products, from the Zoology Department of the University of Rajasthan. In July 2012, she was awarded a trophy for her commitment towards vulnerable women and children, by the Rotary Club and Kiwanis of France, and in May 2012, the Gender Links Award at the national level in the Local Economic Growth category. In 2011, she also won The Pride of India Leadership Award from the Government of India and the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). Furthermore, she is a life member of the Global Forum on Natural products from the Zoology University of Rajasthan, India, and a life member of the world Noni Research Institute.
It is people like Mrs Pooran and the initiatives they set forth that are driving forward more inclusive economic growth in the SADC region.