Créditos @ SIMILI
Publicado en Septiembre 7, 2023

Empowering women through a circular economy in Cape Verde

The SIMILI Project, driven by the passion of two environmental activists, turned what would have been marine garbage into reusable products. The project's goal was to address the pressing issues of marine and industrial waste that have been wreaking havoc on marine life and our planet's overall quality of life.

Débora Roberto and Helena Moscoso, the visionary minds behind SIMILI, were chosen to participate in the United Nations Joint Programme called "Connecting the Actors of the Blue Economy: Generating Employment, Improving Livelihoods, and Mobilizing Resources." They shared that being a part of this entrepreneurial program was an opportunity to transform their shared love for the sea into a tangible project.

Débora Roberto explained, "We saw marine litter as an opportunity and turned our ideas into reality through innovation. It required taking risks, unwavering persistence, leadership, creativity, a constant search for new opportunities, flexibility, and autonomy, all with the aim of creating a positive social, environmental, and economic impact.

The primary focus of SIMILI is to convert discarded fishing nets found on Cape Verde's beaches into fabric, employing a circular economy approach. This not only minimizes the negative impacts of abandoned nets but also creates new products while empowering women from the Salamansa community on São Vicente Island.

Photo: © SIMILI
Photo: © SIMILI

Débora Roberto elaborated on their plans, saying, "Our current objective is to develop a new business plan, improve our product accounting, strategize for business expansion, and engage potential financiers. Our long-term vision is to make the business more profitable, enabling us, as founders, to work on additional environmentally and socially conscious projects through the formation of an association."

Through the "Connecting the Actors of the Blue Economy" program, SIMILI has connected with experts and mentors who offer support to women and young entrepreneurs in maturing their businesses, improving community group production processes, mobilizing financial resources, and attracting investments, particularly from the diaspora, to facilitate business growth and scalability.

The joint programme is funded by the Joint SDG Joint Fund and co-financed by agencies such as FAO, UNIDO, UNDP, and IOM. It contributes significantly to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, including:

Photo: © SIMILI
Photo: © SIMILI


- SDG 1: Elimination of poverty by providing resources to increase family income in fishing communities.
- SDG 2: Eradication of hunger, promotion of sustainable agriculture, and improving food security and nutrition.
- SDG 5: Advancing gender equality.
- SDG 8: Enhancing productivity in fishing activity and increasing the income of small producers, especially fishermen.
- SDG 14: Conservation of marine resources for sustainable development through coordinated and sustainable management.

The SIMILI Project represents a powerful example of how passion and innovation can drive positive change, address pressing environmental issues, and empower communities, all in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals.

This article was originally posted on UN in Cape Verde


The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.