Republic of Mauritius

A Cooperative Business Centre (CBC) was launched, this morning, after a restructuring exercise of an existing Regional Cooperative Centre (RCC), at the Farmers Service Centre Building, in Rivière du Rempart.

The Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah; the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah; the Private Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Rajanah Dhaliah; and other personalities were present on the occasion.

In his keynote address, Minister Bholah recalled that cooperative societies had existed for 108 years in Mauritius, with the first company registered in the sugar sector in 1913. “The objective,” he stated, “was to bring the growers together to have better access to finance.” He also pointed out that as at date, there were around 800 to 900 active cooperative societies in different sectors of the economy.

Furthermore, Mr Bholah underlined that amendments were brought to legislations, and the Cooperatives Act 2016 was voted. “The help of the Office of Public Sector Governance was also sought to review the services being offered by the RCCs with the aim of maintaining dynamism, promoting optimum utilisation of resources, and introducing efficiency and innovation in the sector,” he pointed out.

The Minister highlighted that this launch was part of the first phase of the reengineering of the Cooperatives’ Division where the twelve existing RCCs would be restructured and converted into five CBCs. On this score, he indicated that the CBCs would be set up in five strategic zones namely in Rivière du Rempart, Port-Louis, St Pierre, Henrietta and Rose-Belle, and would serve as a one-stop shop for cooperatives societies.

The Minister pointed out that the restructuration of the RCCs and the setting up of the CBCs did not result in the reduction of existing employees but provided better infrastructure, logistics and environment for the employees. On this note, Mr Bholah reiterated that the future of cooperatives would always be well anchored in the development of the country.

For her part, Minister Koonjoo-Shah underlined that women were the pillars of society and had the potentials to become entrepreneurs.  “These CBCs,” she pointed out, “will inculcate the right business culture for prospective women entrepreneurs and assist existing ones to progress in the entrepreneurship field.” “They will be able to develop a sense of autonomy and become economically independent by starting up their business,” the Minister added.

In addition, Mrs Koonjoo-Shah stressed that her Ministry was committed to the promotion and economic empowerment of women, as well as to encourage the development and growth of women entrepreneurs. To this end, she emphasised that the National Women Entrepreneur Council (NWEC) was acting as a facilitator in providing training and in organising sensitisation programmes and workshops for women to improve their skills. She said that more than 1,000 women were registered with the NWEC and benefitted from several facilities so as to become autonomous.

“The Government,” stressed Mrs Koonjoo-Shah, “has also made provision in the budget 2021-2022 so that loans can be given to women entrepreneurs at a concessional rate of 0.5% per annum in order to stimulate economic empowerment and entrepreneurship of women.”

As for Mr Dhaliah, he urged entrepreneurs and cooperative societies to avail themselves of the facilities put in place for the successful development of their businesses by the Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives as the cooperative sector needed to revamp and reposition itself so that it could keep pace with the challenges of the competitive business environment. “The Ministry,” he indicated, “has put several incentives at the disposal of the cooperative societies which aim at increasing their business profit and widening their entrepreneurial range through better use of products and facilities.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of Mauritius.

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