Mauritian SMEs contribute 44% to national employment and need to build resilience to sustain economic growth in an uncertain global context
The UNDP supports Les Assises de l’Entrepreneuriat for the creation of an innovative, sustainable and inclusive entrepreneur ecosystem
March 16, 2023
Les Assises de l’Entrepreneuriat was held in Port-Louis on the 15th and 16th March 2023. This two-day event, organized by the Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives with the collaboration of the UNDP Mauritius Country Office, is aimed to serve as a platform to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the SME sector. Various stakeholders including entrepreneurs, the private sector and officers of various ministries and financial institutions participated in the consultations.
Two out of three jobs in the world are created by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and in Mauritius they contribute 44% to national employment. Given the economic and social impact of SMEs, it is essential to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs who need to build resilience to face uncertainty in a global environment characterised by rapid changes, shocks and trade disruptions.
Crafting the SME sector on innovation and opportunities
During the opening ceremony, the Honourable Soomilduth Bholah, Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, emphasised the efforts of the Government to build a conductive environment to enable entrepreneurs to unleash their full potential. Minister Bholah mentioned the importance of easing access to capital markets and technology for SMEs and listed numerous schemes, facilities and trainings provided by SME Mauritius to improve the competitiveness of local enterprises. Mentioning the creation of a E-directory for SMEs, the Minister appealed entrepreneurs “to leverage on new technologies to respond to the fast changing digital space and find solutions to sustainable development challenges”. During his intervention, Honourable Soomilduth Bholah also acknowledged the UNDP for the technical and financial assistance provided to his ministry, including studies to facilitate post-COVID-19 recovery and support for the development of a Women in Trade Protocol to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ms. Renooka Beejan, Head of the Socio-Economic Unit at the UNDP Country Office in Mauritius, expressed the UNDP's commitment to supporting Mauritius and Rodrigues in building a resilient economy with human development at its heart. She highlighted the need to address the practical and strategic needs of women entrepreneurs during the consultations, given the decrease in the percentage of newly registered women-owned companies.
During the two-day event, participants discussed relevant themes, such as access to finance and markets, new sectors for SMEs, promoting high-end SMEs, technology and innovation, women-led entrepreneurship, and support systems for SMEs.