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    O. Veerasamy

    The investments required to make acquisition of manufacturing machines are usually immense and is one of the reasons why at times a good idea is not further explored by early entrepreneurs. How then to encourage high revenue entrepreneurial projects? Any early entrepreneur working in Mauritius would soon be confronted with issues pertinent to our geographical isolation meaning that we are hammered with transportation costs, whether it is for the sourcing of raw materials, equipments and packaging concerns.
    In a country such as ours with an important tourist industry as well as a population with a reasonable but probably diminishing purchasing power, it is essential that we orientate ourselves more towards local production and one way to encourage local production is to help democratize manufacturing.

    Possible solutions:
    – SMEDA could offer schemes for the acquisition of manufacturing equipments
    – The state should make an investigation into the kind of manufacturing equipments that could benefit a lot of entrepreneurial projects and should finance these manufacturing unit and charge entrepreneurs for use of the facility (sub-contracting the manufacturing). Let’s consider for example a glass manufacturing industry. We use glasses in various ways in Mauritius and for many types of items. We even have a major concern where it comes to glass recycling. So why not think of a glass and bottles manufacturing plant. Locally we have several alcohol and beverage industries with already a huge demand for bottles and most of their bottles are sourced from India, China or South Africa. Obviously the cost for such a manufacturing plant is substantial but would it not generate employment and provide local industries with a possibility of being cost effective. Smaller companies and start-up could use the facility and produce tailor-made items at smaller volumes than would be considered by foreign supplier. Key raw materials required for glass making can be found locally (sand and recycled glass) while sodium hydroxide is relatively cheap.
    – Low interest or no interest loan facilities should be made available to start-up on a merit-base approach, depending on the project’s financial projection and feasibility.
    – Recently, the Phoenix Beverages recently invested millions in the acquisition of a can making machine. Other local companies could benefit from such a facility but would Phoenix consider selling cans locally or sub-contract this facility under specific conditions? What could encourage such collaborations? Local industries should be encouraged to promote innovation by collaborating with start-ups and providing them access to their manufacturing facilities under specific agreements. Such collaborations could lead to diversification of product propositions by already established industry if mergers and acquisition occurs or could be broadcasted as a social and sustainable innovation strategy. Many such attempts could be associated with certain tax exemptions.
    – More funding should be provided to local universities to look into the possibility of using engineering and newer materials to make small-scale machinery adequate for local needs.

    Some benefits of democratizing manufacturing:
    -encouraging and empowering start-ups
    -providing employment
    -encouraging innovation by taking out one constraint (manufacturing equipment’s cost)

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