Sitraka Faniry Nantenaina RATSIMBA, Madagascar

Sitraka is a rising star in the development field of Madagascar. Over the years she has worked with United Nations Information Center in Madagascar, Focus Development Association and TIM Illeme Arrondissement. She is also a member of the National Council of Women of Madagascar, International Aids Society 2016 and “Narrative of Tomorrow”program with the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Photo: Bolun Li, Diinsider

Bolun is the co-founder of Diinsider, a platform to assist grassroots philanthropic organizations and young changemakers in capacity development to create lasting impacts that go to scale for “the bottom of the pyramid”. Bolun has worked with Angelina Jolie’s foundation in Cambodia, Rural Education Action Program in China, Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Bolun is part of the QYC 2030 Cities Task Force of UN Habitat, “Narrative of Tomorrow”of United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, and a consultant of International Poverty Reduction Center of China.

Bolun: Generally, what is the stage of development for entrepreneurship in Madagascar?

Sitraka: Entrepreneurial spirit is yet to develop in young Malagasy minds. The considerable rise in the unemployment rate reflects, among other things, the gap which we must seriously look at. Given the insufficient job opportunities available for the young generation, entrepreneurship has gradually evolved as a new approach for employment. And this has provided numerous potentials for social innovations and development of Madagascar.

Bolun: Are there any good examples of young entrepreneurs who are already successful?

Sitraka: In fact very few, but Randriarimanana Eritina Tahina is a great example. Born into the small town Faratsiho and once struggled to sell poo-pigeaon to survive, Eritina is a role model for many Malagasy youths. After seeing the huge potential of food and drink industry, he founded Fiombonana, an agro-processing enterprise that manufactures dairy products and confectioneries using only Malagasy raw materials, employing farmers and providing local job opportunities.

Source:African Leadership Academy

Bolun: So what is the scale and impact of the project?

Sitraka: Now his company produces 800 kg of cheese weekly, and innovations such as reverse-engineering machinery for food processing have made it possible for rapid and low cost expansion. Besides, he has also got various recognition from the international society. For example, he was selected from a competitive group of young African entrepreneurs to win the Anzisha Prize (25000 USD award), which is Africa’s biggest award for her youngest entrepreneurs, and for the first time ever, it is awarded to a finalist from Madagascar. Besides, he also attended training given by African Leadership Academy, the most renowned leadership training program in Africa. We are proud of him so much.

Source: African Leadership Academy

Bolun: Thanks for the inspiring sharing, so what are the challenges that young changemakers are facing in Madagascar?

Sitraka: The first challenge is that most young Malagasy are not interested in entrepreneurship, and most of them think of job search as the only source of employment. However, the labor market is not dynamic enough to accommodate all the young people entering into the market, as a result unemployment has become a huge challenge in our country. Another challenge lies in the lack of supporting system from the government. It is not providing any technical and financial support for entrepreneurship, and the lack of communication channel among the state, the financial partners and the youths have made it tougher for young changemakers to receive real support for their ventures. As the Malagasy proverb goes: “toko telo mahamasa-mahandro”. In other words, these three groups are complementary and cannot be dissociated.

Bolun: I know you are also a changemaker yourself, and you are interested in creating lasting social ventures that can change people’s lives in the future. So what support do you need personally?

Sitraka: I am really eager to know how we as young changemakers can strengthen our own capacity in implementation of our vision. I would love to see more opportunities to learn know-hows on project management, evaluation, marketing and other relevant topics. Besides, we also need more platforms such as the Anzisha Prize and African Leadership Academy, where great minds from all over the world can come and learn from each other, and potentially collaborate on future influential programs.

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