Startups and innovation are at the heart of a “new wind” blowing through the economy of Mauritius, best known economically as an offshore tax haven. And co-working company The Hive is determined to play a key role as this develops.
The Hive is a multi-site co-working company with locations in four different cities around the island – Saint Pierre, Tamarin, Curepipe and Port Louis. It launched its first branch in November 2016 in Saint Pierre, with its most recent space opening in Curepipe in September.
“The Hive is more than a workplace, with a growing community of like-minded people with whom our members can collaborate and expand their business ideas and projects,” Daphné Rouillard, workplace and community manager at The Hive, told Disrupt Africa.
The company is banking on the development of the startup space in Mauritius, with Rouillard saying a “new wind” is blowing through the Mauritian economy these days. The government has put innovation and SMEs at the heart of its plans for growth of Mauritian trade.
“The Mauritian government has been a great support in promoting SMEs. Starting from the taxation rate, which is very interesting compared to other countries, to easier access to education, meaning companies have flexible, qualified and bilingual staff,” she said.
Administrative procedures, meanwhile, have been simplified.
“Creating your company some years ago would have taken you few months, nowadays three to four days are enough to be your own boss,” said Rouillard.
“Funding is easier nowadays with the support from organisations such as SMEDA, business angels, private investors and other schemes which have been set up to provide financial or technical assistance to these developing companies.”
All of this informs The Hive’s view that startups have a big future in Mauritius. The company provides shared working spaces, private offices, and meeting and conference rooms across its various spaces, providing a professional atmosphere for entrepreneurs and freelancers.
The concept was developed by two young entrepreneurs – Nicolas Dalais and Sofyan Zouioueche. Their aim was to provide a “third desk” for people who constantly on the move during the day, and who which to avoid traffic.
“The Hive is the third desk for of all those wishing to have a cosy and professional space to work and receive their clients,” Rouillard said.
“After the launch of The Hive Saint Pierre, the management decided to expand their concept into a mobile workplace. They then considered the idea of creating a community of entrepreneurs and freelancers who would support each other and grow their business.”
Two years later, and it is well established. In addition, Rouillard said it is focusing on building a community of entrepreneurs and supporting them through events, networking sessions and business coaching.
“As we grow and support our community, we will continue organising events and programmes which will be beneficial to entrepreneurs,” she said.