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Cottage industry plays key role in country’s economy

8893Cottage industry has its place in Seychelles as it plays an important role in the economy of our country and provides employment to people.

But how many people do take up the employment opportunities presented to them? Some critics might say all people want to work to earn their living, but are all of them serious?

A visit to some small family businesses in Baie Lazare and Takamaka districts on Tuesday morning gave President James Michel the chance to see for himself the extent of the problem related to a scarcity of reliable local manpower.

Most of the entrepreneurs complained that they hesitate to employ Seychellois as they are either on drugs and consume a lot of alcohol thus missing work or just steal equipment.

1Another issue that came up was access to affordable loans. Some of the entrepreneurs are not even aware of the facilities government has put in place for them.

Despite all these issues, the entrepreneurs have said they are determined to continue doing their business and want to grow and at the same time raise their level of production.

We profile some of the entrepreneurs we met on Tuesday.

Chips maker François Mondon has being running his own business for 20 years and he said he gets help from his dad.

2He produces chips from banana, sweet potatoes, cassava and bread fruit, and even prepares moulouk.

The 44-year-old added that he grows some of the raw materials but still has to outsource to meet the demand.

Owner of a mechanical workshop at Anse Forbans, Keven Desaubin worked for Sacos for 14 years before opening his own workshop in 2007.

“Business is doing very well. Our only issue is a lack of serious workers. Seychellois workers are good technically but they consume too much alcohol and drugs. As we don’t have enough workers, we get too much work to do and we can’t deliver all on time. Because we do not have qualified automotive engineer locally, my objective is to look for one from overseas to work on new cars with new technology. He can also train his Seychellois colleagues. My other wish is to benefit from an affordable loan to put the finishing touches to my workshop and also buy new equipment,” said Mr Desaubin.

4Farmer Marie-Noella Sanguignon does not possess a plot of land, but she grows cassava, sweet potatoes, beans, chilli and cucumbers among others on a plot at Quatre Bornes belonging to the Pigg family and it is rent-free.

“I’ve been farming this land for 15 years and I work alone. This is very fertile land and I am able to produce enough to sell to small hotels and individuals. I like what I do,” she said.

Carpenter Randy Bonne’s workshop is situated at Takamaka and he works alone, covering all areas of carpentry specialising in wardrobes, cupboards and beds.

“I’ve been running my business for 10 years and I buy wood planks at Anse Forbans. I am registered with Senpa (Small Enterprise Promotion Agency) and I took a first loan from the Seychelles Business Finance Agency (SBFA) to buy a piece of woodworking machinery equipment. After repaying my loan, I applied for another to buy an additional two pieces of equipment. Now I want to build a proper workshop and a house on my father’s land,” said Mr Bonne.

5Ray Balette also of Takamaka is a product of the ITC (Industrial Training Centre) the predecessor of SIT (Seychelles Institute of Technology). A finish carpenter he specialises in crafts and creates ornate, detailed, and fine wood products for a variety of uses.

The 30-year-old’s workplace is not in a good state and he says he needs help to get a loan.

“I have two woodworking machinery equipments and it is very difficult for me to work when it rains. I have to move one inside and cover the other. I do not want to exhibit my work in Victoria, I would rather stay in Takamaka,” said Mr Balette who has been running his small business for one and a half years and produces upon demand.

As for Ian Belle, he is happy his small bakery – Ian’s Bakery – at Val Mer is doing very well.

“I bake 5,000 loaves of bread daily and I distribute to hotels and shops in Baie Lazare and Takamaka. I also bake cakes, pudding among others. This is a family business as my wife and 22-year-old son are part of it. I used to employ Seychellois but no more as they consume too much alcohol and are on drugs.

Now, I employ two Malagasies as I have to meet the demand and keep a certain standard and quality of baked products,” said Mr Belle, who added that he has already reimbursed the loan he borrowed from the Development Bank of Seychelles to start his business.

Vegetable and fruit seller Bernadette Antat of Quatre Bornes Baie Lazare said most of her clients are foreigners.

“I sell tomatoes, banana, cassava, sweet potatoes which I grow myself. I get a lot of clients between 12 noon and 6pm and they like the fresh produce. I want to have a plot of land where I can concentrate on cultivating more such produce for sale. My daughter is also studying horticulture and I want her to join me in this business,” said Mrs Antat.

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