Mauritius has since independence developed from a low-income, agricultural, Fisheries and farming based economy to a middle-income diversified economy with expanding industrial, Financial, and Services sectors. Agriculture at the time of independence accounted for almost 99 % of export earnings represented about one third of the Gross Domestic Product and provided employment to a quarter of the active labour force. The Agricultural sector constituted essentially of sugar production just after independence but over the years there has been a lot of diversification in new products.
The National Women Entrepreneur Council (NWEC) assists and encourages Women Entrepreneurs to invest in enterprises in both traditional products but also in more value added projects like Agro Processing, Flowers, Landscaping, Gardening, Health Products, Rearing of Animals, Biotechnology, Mushroom, Vegetables, Milk and Meat processing, Animal by-products and Compost and Recycling of waste amongst others.
NWEC works closely with Agricultural Research Extension Unit (AREU) to develop the potential of Women Entrepreneurs wishing to start or develop existing enterprises in the above sectors.
Mauritius is usually referred to as ‘Paradise on Earth’. The island is blessed with a lot of Sun, Sea, Smile, a multitude of natural resources and rich cultural diversity. The Handicraft Sector has benefited from these and it has continued to grow with increasing tourists over the years. Tourists are fascinated with the Mauritian products and Souvenirs of the island. Hotels and also Mauritians are also increasingly interested in Handicraft Products. This sector has a lot potential, provided that the products are original and of high quality.
NWEC encourages a wide range of products like Basketry, Fancy Jewellery, Wood Craft, Embroidery, Glass and Fabric Painting, Floral Arrangement, Pottery, Curio, Soft Toys, Engraving on Glass and Wood, Sculpture, Plasterwork, Coconut Products and ‘Papier Maché’ amongst many others. Craftswomen are encouraged by the NWEC to diversify and improve their Products range. The future of this Sector remains very promising particularly if creativity, innovation and quality are duly considered. The NWEC organizes Training and Capacity Building Programs to further develop the skills of Women Entrepreneurs.
The Services Sector has grown very rapidly in the last few years and NWEC has been encouraging both existing and aspiring Women Entrepreneurs to invest in various promising sub-sectors. Hairdressing, Hair and Beauty Saloons, E-Commerce Services, Bridal Make-Up, Beauty Care, Gyms, Yoga and Health Centres, Special Care Centres, Secretarial and IT Services, Driving School, Advertising Agencies, Translation, Transport Agencies, Training Centres, Telesales, Repairs and Maintenance, Consultancy, Nursing Services, Nursery, Matrimonial Agencies, Massage Therapist, Kindergarten and other sophisticated support to Industries are some of the areas which have attracted the interests of Women Entrepreneurs.
Conscious of its role to enhance growth of Mauritian Women Entrepreneurs, the National Women Entrepreneur Council has encouraged its registered members to start Value Added Enterprises in this Sector. Many Women Entrepreneurs operating in the Services Sector have been very successful. NWEC will increase investment on Training and Capacity Development
Programs related to this Sector to achieve the true potential of Women Entrepreneurs.
The Textiles industry has been playing a significant role, for the past 30 years, in the Mauritian economy whether in terms of value of exports and number of persons employed. However, with the dismantling of the Multi-Fibre Agreement in January 2005, Mauritius faced tougher competition from various countries. The Mauritian Textiles industry has been revamped and it as increased its competitiveness, efficiency, quality and level of innovation. It has a mixture of Large Firms but also many small and medium enterprises (SMES). Indeed, many SMES owned by both women and men are contributing significantly in this sector. The National Women Entrepreneur Council (NWEC) encourages more Women Entrepreneurs to invest in the sector particularly in value added products related to Menswear, Ladies and Children Wear, and the full range of products such as Frocks, Bridal Wear, T-shirts, Curtains, Socks, Nighties, Bed sheets and Home Accessories amongst others.