Mauritius is a tiny African island nation in the Indian Ocean, essentially located at the maritime crossroads of Africa and Asia. You may not be aware that this lovely tropical island mainly associated with its pristine beaches and honeymoons is also home to a healthy emerging startup ecosystem. The nation now has a vibrant and welcoming community of freelancers and entrepreneurs to enjoy its stunning nature and modern infrastructure.
Mauritius is reknowned for being business friendly and offering a less risky investment environment, nevertheless, the nation used to be ignored by entrepreneurs because of its small market size. Despite its small internal market, in this modern era of global tech companies, the islands have managed to attract an array of multi-national companies and have become an ideal launch pad for startups. This is in no small part due to the nation’s stable political system, liberal financial sector, low taxes and ideal location.
Of great appeal to startups are new government incentives such as the Regulatory Sandbox License which permit entrepreneurs to innovate by offering the possibility to conduct a business activity for which there exists no legal framework, or adequate provisions under existing legislation in Mauritius. Having such incentives coupled with the nation’s aforemention low risk investment environment, the Mauritian government is creating an ideal hub for future tech. One cannot underestimate the increased scaling potential a startup gets by operating in an environment friendly to international investors – the gorgeous tropical island of Mauritius is one such environment.
An example of a startup that has made Mauritius its home is Exportunity. The brainchild of ‘Forbes African Top 30 Under 30’ 2016, Vital Sounouvou. The Beninese entrepreneur founded Exportunity which operates across mainland Africa but is headquartered in Port Louis, Mauritius. The startup is an exclusive virtual market which, connects vendors and sellers by organizing and managing B2C and B2B trade in and between African countries; A platform which utilizes the network of Government post offices as its shipping logistic support and digitalizes their facilities, A platform that enrolls only and all the duly registered companies in each country, allowing big and small buyers to place their orders safely through secured payments, assurances, escrow mechanisms, and mobile banking infrastructures.
Exportunity has partnerships with Microsoft, Nestle, United Bank for Africa, and the International Trade Centre, amongst others. Partnerships partly made possible by the enabling environment in which the company opted to be headquartered.
Worth mentioning, is the way in which Mauritius is setting itself up as a global trading hub. The tiny nation secured Africa’s very first formal Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as it looks to become a transshipment and financial hub on China’s Maritime Silk Trade Route. The island has already agreed on a formal trade agreement with three African trade blocs — Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC). Mauritius can rightly be called a gateway to Africa.
The tiny island nation is likely to be the birthplace of much future tech, it is one of the most favourable places for startups in Africa, if not the world.