Entrepreneurs of Cape Verde: Fatima Lima of the Divin’Art Restaurant, Santo Antão
Hi Fatima, could you please tell the readers of Atlantico Weekly who you are? Yes, with pleasure! My name is Maria de Fatima Monteiro Lima, 41 years old. Already at the age of 25 I started as an entrepreneur and opened a boutique in Ribeira Grande on Santo Antão. Boutique Elegance can be found in the centre of Povoação, the main urban hub of Ribeira Grande. As a businesswoman, I am trained and experienced in business administration, accounting and marketing. Of course I also learned a lot through experiencing everyday life!
Recently I started a second business, called Divin’Art Saberes e Sabores, a place that I strongly believe will boost tourism on Santo Antão. Divin’Art is located in the neighbourhood of João Dias, just outside Povoação on the road to Coculi and Garça.
So what is Divin’Art all about? Divin’Art is a cultural hotspot where one can experience the culture of Cape Verde in general and of Santo Antão in particular. People can get to know our gastronomy as well as our drinks: our regional grogues and special liqueurs are a must. We also have an art room for the promotion, sale and exhibition of locally made art and artifacts. We have a typical restaurant and a garden area, where you can chill, drink or eat in all tranquility.
With Divin’Art Saberes e Sabores (Saberes = knowledge and Sabores = tastes – AW) I want to promote our Cape Verde culture, gastronomy as well as other traditions and also show people a bit of Cape Verde history. This may happen through art, literature and of course music. At the moment the focus is on the culture of Santo Antão, but little by little we will also promote the culture of others islands.
Untill now many artists have performed at Divin’Art. It is a stage for local as well as international artists. We had Tito Paris and several musicians from São Vicente. We also provide a stage to many young and local talents, performers of traditional dancing, music and of course poetry. Crucially, we had a visit of the Minister of Culture, Mario Lúcio Sousa, himself a poet. The Minister made us officically part of the “Rede Nacional de Salas de Espectáculos”, the national network of cultural venues. You can see the official placa of the ministry outside, on the wall near the entrance of Divin’Art.
Why did you become an entrepreneur in Cape Verde? I was born and raised in Cape Verde. I have an immense passion for my island, Santo Antão. Therefore I decided to make my contribution to the development of this island.
Is it easy to start a business in Cape Verde? I did not encounter any administrative or bureaucratic difficulties during the start or registration of the company. Practically speaking, it is also very easy to make use of local natural resources. We could easily recycle lots of wood, rubber tyres and other stuff and turn it into the furniture of our restaurant! Also, the partnerships with cultural agents and contacts with artists in Cape Verde are excellent.
Could you name one of your highlights or successes? On the 1st of July 2012 Divin’Art Saberes e Sabores celebrated its first anniversary. The opening of Divin’Art was a great success by itself. It is a space that allows me to tell the story of our people. It is a spot where the elderly can relive history and the young can get to know many cultural aspects and even get the opportunity to participate. The popularity of Divin’Art is still growing day by day, so my idea fell on fertile ground.
What was the biggest problem you encountered as an entrepreneur in Cape Verde? Regrettably the purchasing power of the local population is low. I definitely hope things will improve. Most of our customers now are foreign tourists. We also get visitors that live on the other islands, though generally speaking there is a lack of promotion of internal tourism on Santo Antão. I am striving for the right mix of customers: foreigners, people from other islands and locals should all come together at Divin’Art.
What do you recommend to other entrepreneurs when setting up a business in Cape Verde? My advice to them is to get to know the local reality. The pros and cons of the market and of course to benefit from the good things the islands have to offer. We have a perfect climate, we have morabeza, political stability, a very positive investment climate and we have peace in our country, especially on Santo Antão.
What is your opinion of the economic development of Cape Verde and of your island in particular? I strongly believe that our economy will keep growing. On my part I want to continue contributing to our society as much as possible. For Santo Antão I forecast growth of the number of tourists with the expansion of the Porto Novo passenger terminal and the future construction of the airport of Santo Antão. Anticipating more tourists, Divin’Art recently expanded by also offering accommodation. At the moment we have one suite and two single rooms on the first floor of our building.
But we have to keep fighting for our future day by day and sometimes its all about small things. To discuss how to revitalize the area, I met up with other residents of the Joao Dias and Alfonso Martins neighbourhood and some municipal staff. Among other things I suggested to expand the sidewalk from Joao Dias to Alfonso Martins, provide for better street lighting and more recreational facilities such as a park. We have to keep working on improving our area, you know.
Thank you Fatima for this interview. Thank you very much for this opportunity!
July 16th 2012. All rights reserved by Atlantico Weekly.