The Zen Artitude Boutik was officially inaugurated by the Hon. Sunil Bholah, Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, in the presence of John Chung, Managing Partner, KPMG in Mauritius, on Monday 17 July 2017 at Oasis de Paix (Ecole Père Henri Souchon).
The sponsorship of the refurbishment of the Zen Artitude Boutik, was undertaken by KPMG in the context of its CSR activities. KPMG also funded the makeover of the surrounding environment into a Japanese garden, with the overall aim of providing a pleasant and functional space where the products manufactured by the students can be exposed and sold to the public.
The main objective of the Zen Artitude Boutik is to bring out the students’ artistic talents and to develop their entrepreneurial skills and help to showcase the arts and crafts products handmade by the children of the school. The Boutik is found within the premises of the school and is accessible from the main road; it is open to the public from 11h00 – 14h00 during week days. People can also view the products on the Facebook page of Ecole Pere Henri Souchon.
Mr Amédé Poupard, President, Oasis de Paix (Ecole Pere Henri Souchon), declared in his welcome speech that “…the school now aims to accompany these youngsters to a higher level and instil more professionalism in their work and behaviour, so that the arts and craft activities become self-financing in the future. We also wish to encourage some of them to capitalise on their talent to earn a living as an artist and/or a small entrepreneur…” He further added that “We know that it will not be an easy task as our youngsters are school drop-outs and mostly illiterate on joining Oasis de Paix”.
Mr Poupard ended his speech by mentioning that “Oasis de Paix does not have any grants from the government” and made an appeal to the Honourable Minister highlighting that “…we hope that we can count on your support…to achieve our ambition and that together we work towards giving these youngsters who have not been favoured by life circumstances till now an opportunity to contribute in the economy of the country.”
During his speech, Mr John Chung, Managing Partner, KPMG, declared that “Our partnership with Ecole Père Henri Souchon or Oasis de Paix as it was then called, dates back to more than 10 years, back to the days when we were neighbours at rue St Georges, Port Louis, even before CSR contributions became mandatory in Mauritius.”
John explained how the KPMG employees who worked on the project came up with the idea of transforming the arts and craft room into a boutik “as it was clear those students were highly skilled in flower arrangement, handicraft, and art.” He further explained that the name Zen Artitude Boutik, suggests several things: the word Zen itself has a dual meaning: Zen in creole stands for youngsters, referring to the young students at the school who will sell their products at the boutik. Zen in English also evokes the surrounding Zen Japanese garden, a place of contemplation and reflection, where hopefully the entrepreneurship culture will thrive. Artitude, which is an urban word, combining the word art and attitude also evokes the world of art and handicraft. Art refers to “l’art” (art) as well as “l’artisanat” (handicraft) in French.”
John Chung further declared that “At KPMG, we strongly believe that businesses have a role to play in making the world a better place, by being socially responsible…Our aim is to make a positive difference in the local communities, by actively participating in sustainable projects together with our partner NGOs. At KPMG, we strongly believe that genuine CSR goes beyond merely allocating funds; together with our employees, we continuously seek to give back to the local communities, through our efforts, and also by willingly volunteering the time and skills necessary for the benefit of the NGOs we engage with.”
John ended his speech by stating that “We would hope that our small contribution today will help make a big difference in the lives of all the students, marks another milestone in the life of the school and why not, allow a couple of entrepreneurs to emerge amongst the students.”
The Hon. Sunil Bholah, Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, highlighted in his speech that “At this moment Mauritius is importing some Rs200 Million in value of arts & crafts products…from China, Thailand, Malaysia and even from Madagascar…” He further stated that this therefore represents a lot of opportunities. He commended the excellent strategy of the school to train the students in arts and craft. According to him “The future is assured for these students”.
He also congratulated the management and staff of Oasis de Paix (Ecole Pere Henri Souchon) for the fantastic work that they are doing, in helping to secure a future for these children, who will hopefully become talented artists or entrepreneurs. He further added that “I think that they will not only be self-employed but will also create job opportunities for those around them.”
The Hon. Minister ended his speech by thanking the establishment for inviting him and wished them good luck for the great job that they are doing.
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