Les Assises de l’entrepreneuriat kick off at Caudan Arts Centre

Mauritius: Les Assises de l’entrepreneuriat, organised by the Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of Mauritius and Seychelles on 15 and 16 March 2023, kicked off this morning at the Caudan Arts Centre in Port Louis.

The Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, the Head of Socio-Economic Development Unit of the UNDP Mauritius and Seychelles, Mrs Renooka Beejan, and other personalities were present at the opening ceremony.

In his keynote address, Minister Bholah highlighted that Les Assises de l’entrepreneuriat is being held with the objective of ensuring the successful implementation of policies put in place and brainstorming about new measures to be initiated to empower aspiring entrepreneurs. “This platform will regroup stakeholders from different sectors who will debate and formulate proposals so as to provide technical assistance and financial support to entrepreneurs,” he observed.

According to the Minister, it is essential to support SMEs, which contribute 44% to national employment and 35% to Gross Value Added, so that they can become more resilient towards external shocks such as supply chain and trade disruptions, increase their competitiveness, and contribute to economic growth.

On that score, Minister Bholah dwelt on some support measures taken to assist SMEs and entrepreneurs in their business. These include various schemes set up by SME Mauritius Ltd, such as: the Business Transformation Scheme; Market Readiness Scheme; Technology and Innovation Scheme; Greening Support Scheme and; Agri-Business Scheme to develop internal capability, and improve the competitiveness and productivity of enterprises.

In addition, Mr Bholah outlined some measures taken as regards capacity building of existing and aspiring entrepreneurs, such as equipping the Headquarters of SME Mauritius Ltd and its four revamped outstations across the island with improved logistics to provide training in different fields. Regular fairs commonly known as ‘Salon des PME’ are also organised in order to help SMEs enhance their visibility, promote their products and indulge in networking, he added.

As regards the 10-year Master Plan of the SME Sector launched in 2017, Minister Bholah underlined that it was revised in order to find solutions to sustainable development challenges. “The Mid-Term Review of the 10-Year SME Master plan confirms that the SME Development Framework is functional and is efficiently shaping the SME sector,” he said.

Speaking of digital transformation, Minister Bholah urged SMEs to leverage new technologies so as to respond to the world’s fast-changing digital landscape.

For her part, Mrs Beejan, speaking on behalf of the UNDP Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, underscored that UNDP has increasingly positioned itself as a leading development partner for Mauritius and Rodrigues through its various levels of support in building a resilient economy with human development at its heart.

The themes for Les Assises de l’entrepreneuriat, she pointed out, have been planned in a strategic manner to create a vision for entrepreneurship in Mauritius, embedded within a broader support network where Government and the private sector come together to redefine the spirit of entrepreneurship, the pathways and support required.

In the same vein, she appealed for a stronger synergy between different actors to strengthen relationships and simplify procedures so as to encourage more young people to adopt an entrepreneurial spirit, with hand-holding from the conceptualisation to the implementation of their projects.

Mrs Beejan further remarked that both inward and outward-looking strategies should be adopted so that businesses are able to participate on an equal level playing field since Mauritius is increasingly vulnerable to external shocks and globalisation.

Amelia Jones

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