Malshini Senaratne is a Director, of Eco Sol Consulting Seychelles which she founded in 2016 with the idea of promoting development that goes hand in hand with Nature, not against her. Eco Sol was our first private sector to obtain a grant from SeyCCAT undertaking a novel ecosystem assessment of entrepreneurship in the Blue Economy. We had an interview with her leading up to World Ocean Day.
What is your contribution towards ocean conservation and/or the blue economy?
I co-founded Eco Sol Consulting in 2016, with the idea of promoting development that goes hand in hand with Nature, not against her. Eco Sol is an environmental survey, design and consulting company operating in the Seychelles. We take pride in our 100% Seychellois team, undertaking various projects related to environmental impact assessments both on land and in the ocean.
I am also currently conducting research into the entrepreneurship ecosystem of the Blue Economy in Seychelles, in collaboration with the University of Lincoln Nebraska, U.S.A, under a SeyCCAT-funded grant. The aim of the research is to assess the challenges entrepreneurs face within the ecosystem and provide information for policy makers around making feasible changes for the better.
What is your proudest achievement for the ocean?
Anything we do for our oceans has to be for the benefit of the next generation. Through this grant, 33 aspiring blue economy entrepreneurs will receive training, mentorship and the know-how to develop sustainable business models within the blue economy space. I’m excited to be present to witness their first ‘spark’ of an idea, kick-start their blue economy entrepreneurial journey and hopefully play a role in their future growth as well!
Do you believe that there is gender equality when it comes to leadership, community action, and investors and businesses in the blue economy?
Within the context of the Seychelles, I find it’s more women than men who are taking leadership roles and action! However, I think more can be done to encourage both women AND men to share the opportunities available in this space. At the end of the day, I believe women cannot go it alone, and we need both men and woman to step up. Given this year’s World Ocean Day has chosen to recognize the importance of gender equality, it is clear that progress is being made, but there is still a long ways to go!
Are there challenges that you face as a woman working in this space? If so, what are they?
Women can experience many challenges within this space and others, such as discrimination, equal pay issues, work life balance and less career opportunities. Personally, I frequently experience being the only female in a meeting, and being subconsciously stereoptyped. If we keep subconsciously placing women in stereotypical jobs, then as an industry, we will not progress. Ultimately, women deserve a seat at any table, because they stand to contribute their own unique skill set.
Do you have advice for the younger generation or other women who are thinking about taking up a role in this space?
The Blue Economy recognizes no genders. If you are worried about getting involved in this industry because of your gender, don’t be! The opportunities are endless if you choose to reach out for the future you deserve.
Have you contributed or thought of contributing to achieving gender equality in the blue economy or your workplace? What is this contribution?
I volunteer teach at my former secondary school with a group of secondary school girls. We cover curriculum subjects, but I also make it a point to tackle ‘soft’ skills as public speaking/role play or discuss current affairs such as environmental issues. Having undertaken this grant, I’m in a better position to introduce the concept of gender equality within the Blue Economy to my future classes. I can genuinely say I am looking forward to the next generation of women, because it will be through them that we will actually see a real and lasting impact.