A meeting under the chairmanship of the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, was held, this morning, at the seat of the Ministry, in Port-Louis.
The meeting aimed at empowering Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the business through the fostering of market and technology-driven advancements to create more high-skilled jobs in all economic sectors.
The session brought together representatives from SMEs from different sectors to discuss the revamping process of the sector in a bid to manage the COVID-19 economic impact.
In a statement after the meeting, the Minister recalled that since last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has engulfed the world into an unprecedented economic crisis, adding that it is crucial at this point to promote local production to the maximum.
According to him, the SME sector has considerably contributed to the socioeconomic progress of the country, notably about 40% to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represents more than 50% of total employment in Mauritius.
He underscored that SMEs are called to assume a more impactful role in the economy not only as an enabler but as a key driver of inclusive and balanced growth. However, challenges in the sector are multi-dimensional and against such a complex backdrop, SMEs, with the support of the Government, need to adopt new approaches and invent ways of working together to promote competitiveness, he added.
Furthermore, the Minister highlighted that appropriate mechanisms need to be devised in a bid to support the creation of a conducive environment as well as build a strong base of resilient SMEs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also announced that his Ministry is extending the SME Employment Scheme to 1 000 additional graduates for a period of one year. The Scheme, he underlined, seeks to instill and develop entrepreneurial skills among graduates/diploma holders and boost their employability while providing SMEs with fresh talents to support their development.
Speaking about the meeting, Mr Bholah pointed out that it is in line with the recommendations of the 10-Year Master Plan for SMEs aimed at helping those facing difficulties in specific areas of their businesses due to the COVID-19 crisis. In this context, several priorities have been identified, namely, the generation of employment and wealth creation, to revamp the sector as well as ensure the socioeconomic progress of Mauritius in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, he stated.
According to the Minister, the meeting was very fruitful and positive. The different recommendations made will help to further improve and consolidate the different SME sectors which have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he added.