In the heart of Niamey – the capital of Niger - Veolia and Empow'Her have opened Oasis, a space dedicated to both women's entrepreneurship and raising their awareness of sustainable development issues.
The goal? Help women start their own businesses and lead projects that have a positive impact - especially in the field of sustainable development.
An oasis is an island of vegetation surrounded by desert that has become fertile because there is a source of water. L’Oasis in Niamey is exactly that: a third place that seeks to produce beautiful projects in the heart of one of the poorest countries in the world. In Niger, access to education is particularly difficult for girls. The hardest hit by poverty, women often lead very precarious lives.
An oasis for women and the environment
L’Oasis was born out of a meeting between Veolia, operating in Niger through its subsidiary SEEN (Société d’Exploitation des Eaux du Niger), and Empow'Her, a non-profit organization that works to empower women across the world through entrepreneurship.
Convinced that women have an important role to play in developing their country and that entrepreneurship acts as a powerful lever in their emancipation, these two actors wanted to help them exploit their potential and encourage them to become actors in change. The idea is to build their capacity to create and develop businesses and lead projects that will have a positive impact - especially in terms of sustainable development.
L’Oasis not only supports women's economic and social integration and empowerment, but also raises their awareness of sustainable development issues. Veolia and Empow'Her have set very concrete goals: train 10,000 women in 3 years; mentor 15 women entrepreneurs per year by offering specific support to help them maximize the social and environmental impact of their projects; and raise the awareness of 3,000 visitors to L’Oasis every year through a number of different events and partnerships.
La REcyclerie’s little sister
Opened in 2014, L’Oasis is inspired by La REcyclerie -- a space in Paris dedicated to the circular economy, of which Veolia is the main partner. In particular L’Oasis shares the desire to build a platform for experimentation and meetings for sustainable development stakeholders. The space has been laid out on eco-responsible principles, using recycled and recovered materials, and with the majority of the space covered by vegetation. The philosophy is based on the 3 zeros - 0 plastic, 0 waste, and 0 carbon - an ambition that will, for example, be reflected in the reuse and recycling of plastic waste.
L’Oasis has been adapted to the context in Niger and designed with local entrepreneurs, including the artist Diassibo Tchiombiano and the "Young Volunteers for the Environment". As a 1,000 m2 third place whose main partner is the Veolia Foundation, it offers training in entrepreneurial innovation, incubation programs, and spaces for rent – in particular for co-working - that can accommodate up to 40 entrepreneurs in residence. It includes spaces for creativity and exchanges (a screening room, a library, etc.) and an ecological vegetable garden that will serve as an educational platform for raising awareness about sustainable agriculture. The cornerstone of the project is Oasis Lab, which will offer the opportunity to experiment with new sustainable solutions, access a large number of resources to develop knowledge, skills and creativity, and build relationships.
There’s no doubt about it - L’Oasis is aptly named!
Main picture: ©Librairy Veolia