Care / CSR

Care / CSR

Savannah, a smart, connected and inclusive community

30 Aug 2022

Promoting social inclusion through various initiatives is an integral part of the comprehensive sustainability plan developed to make Savannah Connected Countryside a place where everyone feels they belong.

What immediately comes to mind when you think of social inclusion in Savannah Connected Countryside is Nou Leritaz, in La Baraque, L’Escalier. This farm covers a little over an acre of land owned by ENL and produces organic vegetables, with an on-site sales outlet.

The project also comprises a breeding activity, including laying hens, ducks and goats. “For phytosanitary reasons, the beneficiaries undertake this activity in their backyard rather than on the farm,” says Mario Radegonde, ENL’s Head of CSR and Manager of the foundation set up by the group.

Nou Leritaz was initially part of the Mixed Farming component of Leave No One Behind, which was run by ENL Foundation with Rs 15 million funding from the European Union. The programme, which was approved in December 2018 and launched the following month, has been completed in June 2022. It has contributed to the empowerment of 385 beneficiaries in the five regions where the group operates – with nearly 100 of them living in the South of the island.

Stand-alone social enterprise

While Leave No One Behind has come to an end, ENL Foundation wanted to continue the farm project started at Nou Leritaz. The group has agreed to provide the funding required to support the initiative for six months. It is now up to the Foundation to find the necessary resources to keep the project afloat for the remaining six months. The ultimate goal is to develop the farm into a stand-alone social enterprise by 2023.

“A total of 33 beneficiaries are currently involved in the project. We want to create a synergy between these people and give them the support required to eventually enable the farm to continue on its own, with its own management and without the assistance of the foundation,” says Mario Radegonde.

A four-pronged programme

Leave No One Behind included three other areas of focus, such as supporting capacity building among some 200 families across the country.

Backyard gardening was initially intended to reach about 100 beneficiaries, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and strong interest in this activity, the number eventually grew to about 115 families. Finally, the Mo Bizness project provided coaching to some 50 aspiring entrepreneurs, 13 of whom have started a micro-business in the South.

Community development approach

“We have put in a lot of effort to enable the social inclusion of these people through a community development approach. With a team of technicians, marketing specialists and psychologists acting as mentors, we have taught many small entrepreneurs to become economically and socially independent,” says ENL’s Head of CSR.

“Saveurs Typiques” is one of the programme’s many success stories. The support received from Leave No One Behind and the I Sixty One Foundation has enabled six women entrepreneurs to fulfil their dream of opening a restaurant in L’Escalier in May 2022.

Other collaborations with similar goals

ENL Foundation has also launched the Nou Tou Ansam programme jointly with Omnicane in 2016. They are joining their resources to promote community development in L’Escalier through various activities, including educational support, adult literacy classes, environmental awareness and clean-up campaigns, an introduction to music, and sports activities such as a football academy.

ENL Foundation partnered with HSBC International in the Aprann initiative from August 2020 to March 2022. The aim was to promote the employability of untrained and unskilled people from vulnerable backgrounds. “We initially targeted 80 beneficiaries but ended up reaching more than 130, especially young people. Most of them have been able to find a job,” says Mario Radegonde.

Femmes entrepreneurs de demain

Empowerment instead of charity

The Femmes Entrepreneurs de Demain project is currently underway and is funded by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. It reaches out to some 30 beneficiaries, half a dozen of whom are from the South of the island.

“We are very satisfied with all the efforts made in the South. It is good to know that we do not promote charity. We try to empower these people by giving them the tools to fight poverty and enter the labour market and the economic sphere by generating income,” says ENL Foundation’s Manager.