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Small is Powerful - Madagascar

Small is Powerful - a project looking at the impact Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are having on economic development in various African countries.
Subsaharan Africa is not an entrepreneurial desert, dominated by diminutive businesses relying on micro-credit and multi-nationals exploiting natural resources on an industrial scale. Increasing numbers of small and medium sized businesses have been springing up across the continent and many of them are coming up with innovative ways of working. Small and nimble, these enterprises are able to adapt quickly and work with realities on the ground, contributing disproportionately to social and economic advances in many African countries. SMEs in Africa are major players in a new vision of how development can occur in a variety of sectors.
The project looks at five SMEs in five countries - Mauritania, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal and Madagascar - working in five different sectors - renewable energy, health, poultry farming, recycling and aquaculture. In the course of this project, the SME's impact - economically, socially and environmentally - is assessed and documented, resulting in five photo stories and a short film.

In Madagascar, IOT (Indian Ocean Trepang) is an SME which specialises in industrial aquaculture of sea cucumbers. It breeds sea cucumbers to be grown to full size in community managed pens in remote fishing villages. These managed fish farms avoid overfishing in communities dependent on the sea for their livelihoods and families participating in the scheme can expect to make an additional EUR 40 per month with sea cucumber cultivation, the equivalent of the average monthly income in Madagascar.

Sea cucumbers are uniquely sustainable as they feed by filtering water and don't prey on other species. They don't need to be fed and don't require antibiotics to avoid infections in the fish farms.

IOT employs 51 full time staff and an additional 135 people on a seasonable basis for the construction of new pens. For people living in fishing villages where formal employment is almost non-existent, IOT's seasonal work is an invaluable source of additional income, allowing people to save money which they can invest in equipment or domestic goods. IOT also offers financial management training to those overseeing revenues from sea cucumber farms, mobile phones for village chiefs and has dug drinking water wells in a number of villages. Some of the employees have completed their training in aquaculture with the help of the company.

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