- 15 December, 2016: The Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) sector is expected to see a new boost next year after the various measures and incentives taken to favour the growth of SMEs announced the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr S. Bholah, in Port Louis on 13 December 2016. The Minister was meeting the press to review the achievements of the current year.
He mentioned that after problems during their starting-up, MyBiz and other organisations dedicated to SMEs are now moving up a gear, aiming to better accompany this sector with more proximity. The MauBank, through MyBiz – the one-stop shop for SMEs – , has given the green light to some thirty loans to local entrepreneurs for their projects, estimated to amount to Rs 108 million, said Mr Bholah, of which Rs 22 million have already been granted. The majority of these projects are for the manufacturing sector.
As at date, the one-stop shop for SMEs has welcomed about 15,000 visitors and through the SME Development Scheme, some 262 applications have been received, stressed the Minister, of which 147 have been approved and 70 are still under review. The approved projects required investments of the order of Rs 554 million, of which Rs 428 million in the form of loans.
Minister Bholah also underlined that four Business Development and Facilitation Centers are at the public’s disposal in Mahebourg, Coromandel, Bel-Air and Goodlands, aiming at helping companies facing difficulties. The grievances of entrepreneurs are recorded and studied. Subsequently, independent consultants are approached to visit these entrepreneurs to analyse their problems and make recommendations, he stressed.
Up to now, around 1,100 visits have already been carried out and 916 of them concern start-ups. Additionally, 164 visits have been carried out by officers of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) in other companies. This initiative illustrates the proximity policy of the SMEDA and the Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives.
“Since July, executives from SMEDA have been conducting information sessions for half a day in Citizens Advice Offices across the country. They are more present in the field to help entrepreneurs”, the Minister added.
Also, SMEs have participated in 83 international fairs organised in collaboration with Enterprise Mauritius, SMEDA, Bank of Investment and the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. The Minister mentioned that grants of a maximum of Rs 200,000 per year have been given to each participating SME, through the International Fairs SME Refund Scheme, so that costs to attend the international fairs can be covered. He stressed that 522 entrepreneurs benefited from this grant and a total of Rs 38,7 million have been disbursed for this purpose.
Concerning cooperatives, Minister Bholah argues that despite some problems, this sector is experiencing a revival with the creation of 203 new cooperatives during the last two years. The Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives also awarded fair trade certification to 31 cooperative societies in the sugar industry. They have benefited from a cumulative sum of Rs 250 million for development projects, he pointed out.
Moreover, the Saint-Antoine Planters Co-operative Trust was also reactivated this year. Launched in 1994 following the closure of the Saint-Antoine plant, a fund of Rs 25 million had been set up by the Trust for former employees and small planters. However, only Rs 4 million have been drawn from this fund so far, Mr Bholah stated.
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