MAURITIUS - HELPING YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS GET THEIR INNOVATIVE BUSINESS PROJECTS OFF THE GROUND
Youth Inclusion & Education – Committed to empowering socially at-risk young people
Total launched its ﬁrst “Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge” in 2015. This pan-African competition was aimed at young entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and business sectors. Building on the success of the ﬁrst competition, the 2019 Challenge was extended to 55 countries worldwide. In Mauritius, the members of the jury met with Lalita Purbhoo-Junggee, a visionary young woman, who went on to win both the Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge and the “Top Female Entrepreneur award”. Her idea was to launch the island’s ﬁrst natural and biodegradable sanitary towels made from bamboo and corn.
Recycle-moi : an environmentally responsible project
Lalita, 31, is driven by a rare determination to accomplish extraordinary things, without really being aware of it. A radio host at the age of 16, journalist, and then head of two companies with her husband, Lalita began a new chapter in her life in 2016. “I started working on Recycle-moi after a trip to India where, quite by chance really, I came across some natural sanitary towels. They irritated me a lot less than conventional towels and since I have endometriosis, I found that very appealing. I decided to go and meet the women who make them. I was impressed by what I saw and I began to think about how I might adapt the idea to Mauritius. I did some research, and began developing the product, but after two years, I ran out of money to ﬁnance the prototypes!” recalls Lalita. At that moment, destiny or luck entered the equation, when one of the companies she runs with her husband was asked to print posters for the “Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge”. The prize included ﬁnancial support and a coaching scheme. Lalita submitted her application and passed the selection stages. “I put a lot of work into preparing the technical and financial components. But I was still really surprised to win both the 2019 Challenge and the «Top Female Entrepreneur Award» !” says the double winner.
With Total’s support, the final product was ready in 5 months!
From prototype to supermarket shelf
The winner was given ﬁ nancial assistance and support from SME Mauritius Ltd. She was also on the front pages of the island’s newspapers. “We switched to top speed. I spent a week in a business incubator in Paris. They really challenged me on the ﬁ ner points of the project. With Total’s support, the ﬁnal product was ready in ﬁ ve months!” The oﬃ cial launch was held in one of the Group’s service stations on the island in October 2019. The French ambassador, representatives of the United States embassy and members of the Challenge jury in Mauritius were present at the event. Recycle-moi is now sold in supermarkets, pharmacies and service stations in Mauritius. Less than a year after its market launch, 121 sales outlets already oﬀer customers Lalita’s natural and biodegradable sanitary towels.
I am really happy and grateful to have this support beyond the Challenge.
Long-term support for talented entrepreneurs
“I’m hoping to launch panty liners and pads to coincide with our ﬁrst anniversary. I know the aﬃliate will continue to support me in this new venture, by selling my products in their service stations. I’m in regular contact with Total Mauritius. They recommended me for a Ted Talk I’ve been invited to give shortly. I am really happy and grateful to have this support beyond the Challenge. It is just the next stage in this amazing adventure with Total.”