Mauritius: A new SME Park at Vuillemin in Quartier Militaire, aiming to provide a space for the operations of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the region, increase access to research and development facilities and give a new dynamism to entrepreneurship, was inaugurated, this afternoon, by the Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth.
The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Education, Tertiary Education, Science and Technology, Leela Devi Dookun-Luchoomun; the Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr Renganaden Padayachy; the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Soomilduth Bholah; the Member of Parliament, Yogida Sawmynaden; the Chief Executive Officer of the Development Bank of Mauritius (DBM), Jaywant Pandoo; and other eminent personalities were present.
On this occasion, the Prime Minister also proceeded with the unveiling of the inauguration plate and remitted Letters of Offer to five tenants of the SME Park.
In his keynote address, Prime Minister Jugnauth indicated that the SME Park, constructed to the tune of Rs 150 million, is a state-of-the-art infrastructure comprising 40 units of a total space of 4000m² for entrepreneurs to carry out their business activities.
He stated that The project is spearheaded by the DBM, which assists SMEs and promotes the culture of entrepreneurship in the country. The Prime Minister announced that the construction of two new industrial parks for SMEs at Plaine Magnien and Solferino Vacoas is also in the pipeline.
He underlined that the SME Park is situated at a strategic location and is in close proximity to the inhabitants of Vuillemin. The SME Park, he observed, will encourage more and more entrepreneurs to avail of existing facilities, create employment, and promote development in the region.
Moreover, the Prime Minister indicated that the SME sector contributes to 35% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, provides more than 50% of employment and constitutes 12% of total exports annually. He observed that while many countries are increasing their repo rates due to inflation caused by the effects of the Russia-Ukraine War, Government is doing its best to maintain financial stability in the country.
He likewise enumerated the various schemes available such as the Business Transformation Scheme to revise business models and increase competitiveness, the Technology and Innovation Scheme to promote modernisation, and the Green Support Scheme for SMEs to adopt renewable energies and help tackle climate change. The government, he added, is also trying to improve market access to the African continent through the African Free Trade Agreement.
In addition, he pointed out that the DBM provides loans for entrepreneurs at a preferential rate of 0.5%, which he qualified as commendable. The DBM, he stated, will also write off outstanding loans of more than 20 years and loans for deceased micro-entrepreneurs amounting to more than Rs 341 million, as announced in Budget 2023-2024.
The government stressed the Prime Minister will continue to invest in projects that will drive the country’s socio-economic progress and foster the SME sector’s resilience. He thus urged more entrepreneurs, especially women and the youth, to avail themselves of all the facilities and schemes put in place to support their businesses.
As for Minister Padayachy, he indicated that SMEs have been remarkable in dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and in supporting the country in its recovery process.
He emphasised that the government is working relentlessly to support the growth of SMEs and will continue to put necessary schemes and incentives at their disposal to encourage more entrepreneurs in their ventures.
He highlighted that Budget 2023-2024 has made provision for the extension of the SME interest-free loan scheme and the COVID-19 Special Support Scheme by the DBM until June 2024. He also announced that the Technopark at Baladirou in Rodrigues is nearing completion and is a major project that will benefit the local entrepreneurs.
For his part, Minister Bholah evoked that one of the main challenges SMEs face is the lack of space for their business activities. The SME Park will help counter this issue and enable entrepreneurs of the vicinity to carry out their operations in adequate space, he said.
According to the Minister, around 44% of the working population is currently employed in SMEs, hence, the need to sustain the sector. My Ministry, he underlined, came up with a 10 Year Master Plan to provide a conducive ecosystem for SMEs, identify challenges of entrepreneurs and provide solutions.
In addition, the Minister remarked that institutions such as the DBM and SME Mauritius are also assisting entrepreneurs in their business ventures by providing financial support, counselling, and training.
As for Mr Pandoo, he underlined that the DBM is mandated to create industrial parks for SMEs. He dwelt on the numerous schemes and financial incentives put in place to encourage entrepreneurs to launch their new ventures and sustain their existing businesses.