Table of Contents

  • Small businesses are the mainstay of the economies of most small states. Mauritius, a typical Commonwealth small island state with a population of just over 1 million, has a vibrant small business sector, with more than 5,700 small and medium enterprise (SMEs). This is a reflection of the market-friendly trade and investment policies Mauritius has pursued since the 1970s, as well as its skilled and literate workforce, relatively good infrastructure and pro-business government policy environment.

  • The island of Mauritius, because of its past industrial experience, has a large SME sector relative to its size of population. Our estimates suggest that there are about 25,761 SMEs and micro-enterprises (1997) in non-primary sector activities (of which 5,731 are in the manufacturing sector). SMEs and micro-enterprises account for 32.1% of total manufacturing employment, which is comparable to employment shares in advanced industrial countries (such as the UK, France and Korea) and well ahead of industrialising economies in Africa.

  • Mauritius, because of its past industrial experience, has a large small and medium enterprise (SME) sector relative to its population size. Our estimates suggest that there are about 25,761 SMEs and micro-enterprises (1997) in non-primary sector activities (see Chapter 2). 5,731 of these are in the manufacturing sector.

  • This chapter examines the recent export performance of SMEs in the manufacturing sector in Mauritius as a background to the study. It examines the following: (a) past achievements and the current climate for manufactured exports; (b) the magnitude of the SME and micro-enterprise population in manufacturing; and (c) the manufactured export performance of SMEs in the EPZ and non-EPZ sectors (where possible relative to large firms). This study defines SMEs as enterprises with 10-49 employees and micro-enterprises as those with less than 10 employees.

  • This chapter aims to evaluate the capabilities of the SME sector in developing export competitiveness. It builds on an enterprise survey of Mauritian SMEs in textiles, printing and publishing and IT. Both face-to-face interviews and a questionnaire were used to collect the requisite information (see Appendix 1).

  • This chapter analyses the nature of macroeconomic, trade and industrial policies in Mauritius pertaining to the fostering of competitiveness in individual SMEs and SME clusters. For convenience, the relevant policy regime issues are considered under three broad headings: policy impediments, procedural impediments and infrastructure impediments. The first concerns incentive policies that affect the relative attractiveness of domestic market production and exporting, the second concerns bureaucratic procedures/regulations that affect transaction costs involved in small enterprise startup and operation, and the third affects small enterprise production costs and country reputation.

  • This chapter aims to outline briefly the public sector institutional support system for SMEs. It covers the major providers of marketing, design, technology, finance and training services for SMEs. It focuses on SMIDO, EPZDA, MEDIA and IVTB, and, to a lesser extent, DBM.

  • This chapter draws on the findings of previous chapters and presents a menu of recommendations to enhance the competitiveness of small firms in Mauritius. It is hoped that our suggestions will achieve three basic objectives: remove policy and institutional impediments to direct SME exporting; reduce policy and institutional obstacles to indirect exporting from SMEs i.e., sub-contracting/supplier relations between SMEs and large export firms; and provide ideas on new products and activities that can be undertaken by SMEs in both the domestic and export market.