Some 509 micro, small and medium enterprises development (MSME) owners graduated and received certificates of participation after attending two business development courses organized by the Seychelles Enterprise Promotion Agency (SEnPA) in collaboration with the University of Seychelles, under the African Development Bank-financed Seychelles MSME Development Project.
The Seychelles MSME Development Project is supported by a US $1-million grant from the Fund for Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) of the African Development Bank.
The Seychelles MSME Development Project is aimed at enhancing the growth of Seychelles’ MSMEs, in order to promote inclusive growth through addressing two main constraints to MSME development in Seychelles: access to finance and entrepreneurial skills. Under the project, a Seychelles MSME development strategy is being formulated and capacity building is being conducted for two government agencies in charge of MSME promotion, namely the Small Business Finance Agency (SBFA), an independent credit facility that provides micro-loans; and the Small Enterprise Promotion Agency (SEnPA), which provides training and capacity building of MSMEs.
This is the first training of this kind to be delivered at such a large scale in Seychelles. In his opening statement, the Minister of Employment, Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation, Wallace Cosgrow, stated “Education and training, is powerful in changing mindsets and customs, and is a prerequisite for business innovation.”
He went on to highlight that the MSME training conducted was in line with the Seychelles MSME policy 2016, which places emphasis on entrepreneurship, education, and development of MSMEs through the capacity building in order to build a knowledge-based society to take on the challenges of a globalized economy, and to overcome Seychelles domestic challenges when operating businesses. Therefore, given the success of the courses, the government has allocated budget to enable the continuation of the course, in order to benefit another 500 aspiring entrepreneurs and MSMEs.
The MSME owners and aspiring entrepreneurs that benefitted from the course were satisfied with the trainings, recognizing that the knowledge acquired will be instrumental in enabling them to grow their businesses. In a personal testimony, Katrina Souffe explained, “Straight after the training I went and registered my business, the course really helped give me the push to get started.” She is now running a promising tourism business, in a niche area of heritage and cultural tourism. “We must offer more than just sea and sun,” she said. She was awarded a young entrepreneurs award by the Government in 2016 for her innovative idea.
In order to positively influence future generations and promote entrepreneurship among the youth, the secondary year students of Mont Fleuri High School were invited to attend the courses as observers and were also recognized during the ceremony. As explained by Belmont, CEO of SEnPA, “We need to encourage innovation from a young age, the current education system is preparing our children to become employees. We need to change this.”
In her remarks, Carina Sugden, the AfDB Project Manager, who represented the Bank during the event, highlighted that Africa’s progress in terms of growth and resilience is intrinsically linked to its private sector performance. The Bank’s strategy for Seychelles therefore prioritizes support to the private sector. She emphasized that the Bank is looking forward to deepen the partnership with Seychelles, and continue to support the efforts of the Government to provide an environment that is conducive for MSME growth.
The training of the 509 MSMEs was conducted under the component to build capacity of SEnPA. The training of the MSMEs was a pilot of an MSME two level training program to be installed at SEnPA. MSMEs that participated in the training were from the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, and represented various sectors including: agro food processing, handicrafts, catering, tourism, construction and entertainment. The training enabled MSME owners among others to have an understanding of what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, identify business opportunities, understand procedures for registration of their businesses, acquire negotiation skills, and prepare business plans for their businesses.
Other ongoing projects of the African Development Bank, that are having positive impact on private sector development in the Seychelles, include Technical Assistance for the development of the PPP Legal, Regulatory and Operational Framework Project and the Financial Sector Development Project, both financed by the Middle Income Countries Trust Fund. The Bank has also provided US $30-million budget support in 2013-2016 to Seychelles, in support of the Government’s reform agenda for improved business environment (Inclusive Private Sector Development and Competitiveness Program – Phase I and II).