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Comoros: Empowering ylang ylang pickers

Improving the livelihood of women and their families through literacy and entrepreneurship training.


Ylang ylang is one of the most coveted flowers in perfumery. In rural areas of the Comoros islands, it represents a significant source of revenue for producers. Women play a key role in the ylang ylang supply chain as they are in charge of picking and collecting the flowers. Yet, many of them face economic challenges. Their income from picking ylang ylang flowers is restricted to a few months per year and their chances of tapping into additional sources of revenue are limited. One of the factors holding the women back is the fact that most of them did not have the opportunity to go to school and are therefore unable to read and write.

Comoros Ylang alphabetisation

To help address these challenges, we have kicked off a project to improve basic literacy and empower women from four villages to develop additional income-generating activities. Through this project, 100 women have so far been able to attend weekly classes aiming to help them achieve a basic level of reading, writing and calculation. The women’s achievements form the basis for the second phase of the project, where they are mentored to develop and set up entrepreneurial projects. Through launching projects with good prospects for sustainable income streams, they are able to access startup capital as well as technical and commercial advice.

We are very happy with the literacy classes we have received. These classes have brought us out of the darkness: we are reassured because we are able to recognise all kinds of simple mathematical operations. Now we are able to do our calculations on our own and we can’t be misled about shopping or anything else.

Hampa villager, beneficiary of the literacy classes


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Find out more about our education projects in communities where Givaudan sources natural ingredients: