How Fundkiss champions gender empowerment in Mauritius
01 Dec 2020
With Budget 2020-2021 – titled “Our New Normal: The Economy of Life” – the Government of Mauritius aims to “preserve jobs and livelihoods for the most vulnerable of our society” as well as ensure “inclusive, robust and sustainable economic development together.”
At Fundkiss, we believe that there is no substitute to women entrepreneurship to ensure gender empowerment and inclusive economic development that provides a sustainable livelihood to the more vulnerable members of our society.
With access to finance continuing to top the list of reasons why women entrepreneurs fail to take their businesses to the next level, micro-credit institutions have gained greater prominence in recent decades in filling in the financial resource gaps to the poor in general and to poor women in particular.
At Fundkiss, we applaud such endeavours but believe that there is a ‘missing middle’ of women entrepreneurs with businesses that are too big to qualify for micro-credit yet too small to be serviced by banks.
We bring you insights from our funded businesses that are led by women entrepreneurs based in Mauritius, as our humble contribution to help shape the market for gender-lens investing and provide our support to take it to the next threshold.
A WOMAN IN A MAN’S WORLD
What happens when a woman wears a hard hat and takes on the construction world? Meet Soonita Mahadea, Fundkiss entrepreneur extraordinaire, who started operating in the construction and transport sector with just one van in 2001 but rapidly scaled up to manage a fleet of 15-20 trucks by 2019.
Since then, Soonita has been involved in projects that need no introduction – such as the development of Bagatelle (as a sub-contractor with COGIR) and the Moka Smart City, around Helvetia. But, during the lockdown, when Soonita faced a credit crunch due to delayed debtor payments, she needed a financier to support her with working capital funding, and that’s where Fundkiss stepped in to help her host a campaign for her project, which has since been successful in raising MUR 500,000 over a period of 18 months.
We ask Soonita what her collaboration with Fundkiss has meant to her, and pat comes the reply, “During the lockdown, I was permanently on my phone searching for sources of finance to grow my business. It was here that I got lucky and came across an ad for Fundkiss. I do a ‘man’s job’ and I wondered if my project would ever be financed. I tried…..and….I succeeded! Despite the fact that everything is digital, one can feel the human approach of the Fundkiss team.”
AN ECOSYSTEM FOR WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS TO THRIVE
Soonita’s words echo with Amreen Dhoomoon Rujubally, director of Amreen Make up Zone, who raised MUR 150,000 for a 2-year period to purchase equipment and makeup kits over Fundkiss.
“I discovered Fundkiss on the Facebook page for ‘Women in Business’ and I said ‘Why not?’ The criteria were not demanding, unlike traditional financial institutions, and funding was accessible and rapid. The fact that everything is digital is convenient for me – no need to wait in an office! The loan received via Fundkiss allowed me to replenish my stocks for November and December,” stresses Amreen.
For a business whose motto is “We help bring out the beauty within’, Amreen also credits Fundkiss with going above and beyond, by not only helping with funds but also bringing her makeup salon more visibility in a muted marketplace reeling under the impact of Covid.
“The best part is that I participated in a radio programme thanks to Fundkiss, and this gave me and my business a lot of visibility,” she concludes.
A HELPING HAND IN CHALLENGING TIMES
Fundkiss women entrepreneurs Priya Ujoodha and Jennyfer Pauvaday, who manage a cold storage called J. Ujoodha Mini Market and a clothing brand going by the name of MJ Couture respectively, also have similar experiences to share from the lockdown, when funds were even harder to come by, and being a woman entrepreneur felt more challenging than ever before.
“I discovered Fundkiss via a Facebook Ad. We were in the lockdown period and the Covid Scheme helped me to sustain my business. It was just such a quick process to obtain a loan!,” exclaims Priya, who has since raised MUR 100,000 for 18 months under the Covid support scheme run by Fundkiss.
“I heard about the Covid Scheme and the fact that no guarantee was required was a huge source of relief to me! The team is so helpful and I had their support every step of the way,” adds Jennyfer, who has benefited from MUR 50,000 for 2 years under the same support scheme.
A FAIRER FUTURE WITH MORE EQUITABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
As we support and applaud our amazing women entrepreneurs, fresh from the global celebration of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day on 19 November, we hope to find more opportunities to unlock access to finance and create an equitable ecosystem for women to stand alongside men – and hold their own – in a fairer society and a more inclusive economy.