The Ministry of Industrial Development, SMEs and co-operatives of Mauritius hosted a workshop exploring innovation in co-operative enterprises.
The event, held at the National Cooperative College, brought together over 100 members and practitioners from co-ops across the country. They looked at some of the latest innovations within the sector and heard from representatives from the University of Mauritius, the Mauritius Research and Innovation Council, and Food and Agricultural Research and Extension Institute.
Minister of industrial development, SMEs and Ccooperatives Soomilduth Bholah said the co-operative sector plays a key role in the country’s economy by creating wealth, generating employment, alleviating poverty and providing quality goods and services. He added that co-ops had to innovate and continue to create value to be able to compete and be sustainable on long-term.
The minister highlighted the main constrains faced by the sector when seeking to compete, including lack of funding, restricted market access, lack of skilled labour and manpower, and deficiency in technological resources. He believes that by exchanging knowledge, skills, creativity and expertise, co-ops can boost innovation.
To support the sector, the government is facilitating online registration for societies. Through a government-led green energy scheme, co-ops are also able to install solar photovoltaic(PV) systems to produce electricity. Agri co-ops can also benefit from a bio-farming scheme. Those who obtain the Bio Farming Development Certificate will benefit from an income tax break for the first 8 years of operation, no VAT on production equipment and other inputs acquired for the implementation of the project and access to SMEs loans through MauBank’s SME Financing Scheme.
Earlier this year the government also launched an ornamental fish farming project through which co-operatives were able to receive training on fish-breeding techniques.
The minister concluded his speech by praising women and young entrepreneurs who chose to join co-operatives.