A first batch of 24 Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) will benefit from the SME Mentoring and Handholding Programme which aims at strengthening the start-ups by providing management, technical and other supports as well as intensive and pragmatic handholding, mentoring and coaching. This initiative is in line with the recommendations of the ten-year SME Master Plan which addresses the multiple challenges faced by our SMEs with a view to unleashing the growth potential of those enterprises.
This statement was made yesterday by the Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, at the launching of the SME Mentoring and Handholding Programme held at the seat of SME Mauritius in Port Louis. He shed light on the Programme which he said is a developmental partnership through which mentors/technocrats share their lifelong acquired experience, knowledge, skills and abilities, and long term perspective to foster the professional growth of SMEs. He underlined that it is in line with Government's vision which is to transform the Mauritian economy by developing a new generation of entrepreneurs.
According to him, only the willingness and the motivation to embark on the pursuit of one's dreams of running a business do not guarantee the success of the company. One can have the resources to put together the business, but a lack of knowledge to manage and achieve the results can be harmful, he said.
"A study undertaken by the Small Business Administration in several countries has revealed that after five years of existence, barely 50% of start-ups are still in operation. Research shows that a mentoring service can change the game. According to a survey conducted by "U.P.S Store", 70% of SMEs that benefited from a mentoring programme doubled their chances of survival and have surpassed the five-year mark", said Minister Bholah.
Speaking about the mentoring and handholding assistance, he underlined that during and following the visits, direct assistance to each SME will begin with a 'growth diagnostic'; this will evaluate all key elements of the business, which contribute towards achieving increased sales. The intention, he pointed out, is to identify, in order of priority, the weaknesses or gaps that, when remedied, will lead to the highest possible impact in terms of increased sales growth.
Minister Bholah stated that the designated mentor will accompany the company for a period of 5 to 6 months by providing necessary advice and advocating strategies to be developed to fill the gaps of the SMEs in question. According to him, many entrepreneurs from a small family business or a start-Up do not have the basic skills and do not know the importance of book keeping, cash flow, management of account, marketing, IT, and other related tools for accounting management. Mentoring assistance in these fields would readily help these entrepreneurs to have a more realistic view of the financial health of the business and at the same time project to new financing strategies, he added. This support service, he said, will be offered to SMEs for free.