Supporting social and conservation enterprises for a sustainable future in MadagascarBecky Band Jain · March 3, 2023
Gaëtan Ramindo is Madagascar’s Director General of Industrial Development at the Ministry of Industrialization, Commerce, and Consumer Affairs (MICC). He handles the development of industry and the private sector, including cooperatives and businesses. Over the past three years, USAID Hay Tao has supported the ministry in drafting a law on social conservation enterprises (SCE) and promoting the integration of environmental protection considerations into the operations of social enterprises.
Community enterprises, cooperatives and associations are active in fast-growing value chains including vanilla, cloves, handicrafts, spices, essential oils, ecotourism, aquaculture and beekeeping. Cooperatives in the agri-food sector mainly process local products such as fruits, pulses and grains, and are predominantly managed and run by women. Twelve of the 37 SCEs supported by USAID Hay Tao that focus on integrating climate change adaptation measures into their operations are female led.
USAID Hay Tao provided support for training in technical production, management and marketing to the cooperatives. With improved technical skills and access to information, the cooperatives have the capacity to conduct more robust analyses that may lead to better outcomes for both business and the environment.
Cooperatives and businesses working in the agricultural sector have a responsibility to manage the natural resources that are at the heart of their business in a sustainable way. The MICC is a strong supporter of promoting responsible business practices that ensure this type of sustainability. “That's why we are also involved in the implementation and adoption of a draft law on SCE,” says Ramindo. “We are aware that the development of agri-business and agro-industry always depends on the health and quality of the immediate environment of these companies. If we destroy the surrounding environment, it can greatly affect the viability and sustainability of the enterprises.”
USAID Hay Tao helped the Ministry develop and refine the draft law through a collaborative process that involved workshops, meetings and discussions with stakeholders. The draft law currently resides with the business law reform committee awaiting validation before it can be submitted to the government for Parliament’s approval. The approval process for new laws in Madagascar is lengthy and arduous. "USAID Hay Tao has been there since the beginning and it is our turn to take over on the administrative level,” says Ramindo.
“Madagascar is a country very exposed to climate change and income-producing activities mostly depend on the environment and natural resources. This law will support and help the people who are working in these sectors so that they can use these resources sustainably,” Ramindo continued.
Whereas corporate social responsibility is voluntary, a social and conservation enterprise requires environmentally and socially sustainable operations to ensure profitability and longevity. “If you are a company that works in vanilla and you are going to cut down all the surrounding trees, you won't be able to plant vanilla anymore. And that's the very nature of the business that makes this company a social and conservation enterprise.”
Ramindo stresses that a social and conservation enterprise is not a charitable enterprise or a nonprofit; it is a business. “Like all companies, it must make profits. It must be cost-effective and reliable. Nonetheless, there is an environmental and social awareness. The company participates in conservation and improving the quality of life for its employees and the population that lives nearby.”
Madagascar is home to around 5% of the world’s biodiversity, which is under severe threat due to a lack of economic resources. The five-year USAID Hay Tao project that closes in March has empowered local communities to lead management of their natural resources to achieve effective, lasting community-based conservation of biodiversity.
This content is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This content is the sole responsibility of USAID Hay Tao project and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.