Made in Heaven

Scaling Up Nature’s Value to Fight Poverty

The tropical island of Mauritius is a favourite Indian Ocean holiday destination, with forecast tourist arrivals of approximately 1.45 million in 2019. With this increase, it is estimated that more tourism-related jobs will be created and therefore more opportunities will be offered to help combat poverty alleviation in the country.

Solid waste disposal and unemployment are two serious national problems and are priority issues. Poor disposal of waste products leads to environmental degradation and depletes the attractiveness of the island.

Unemployment is relatively high on the island, particularly among women and those less educated. Unemployment leads to poverty, which is the main cause of many social problems. Made in Heaven brings together the island’s thriving tourism industry and efficient management of common and often discarded resources, making wise-use and scaling up the value of these resources to generate income for the poor. This project was put in place to fight against poverty by creating green job initiatives but at the same time recycle natural waste products to manufacture tourist handicraft products using only locally available raw materials.

The project kicked off in 2009, beginning with renovation of a space to be used for a training area, workshop and souvenir shop. After renovation was completed, an incubation centre was created, including the required tools, machinery and sample handicrafts. At this time, the sales outlet was also renovated, creating space to welcome visitors, display items and sell to tourists.

Four trainees from needy backgrounds were recruited and received training at the handicraft centre, set up for this purpose. They learned to manufacture handmade value-added items using various materials including plant fibre and leaves, spices, coconut items, jewellery, fabric, wood, hats and silk.

As of 2020, around 15 Mauritians are employed full time and part time by Made in Heaven, either at home or in the workshop. Over time and based on demand, Made in Heaven has pinpointed specific products deemed to be most desirable to tourists. These items are sold at Made in Heaven and other outlets around the island. In addition, the organisation has partnered with several tourist businesses to sell these items.

Made in Heaven is a solution to national problems of unemployment and waste disposal and can be replicated in other poverty stricken communities.