After accompanying President James Michel on his latest visit to small businesses in the Anse aux Pins and Au Cap districts, the Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship Development and Business Innovation Michael Benstrong explained to the press what his ministry is doing to help small businesses to grow and expand.
He said those small businesses have started as home-based activities and now they want and need to move on to the next level as we say. Certain types of business activities, garage for example, are not even appropriate for their current environment as they are in residential areas and therefore a nuisance to neighbours.
Elaborating on his ministry’s plan to have new locations for these businesses, Minister Benstrong said they have already opened a macro-enterprise at Providence Industrial Estate. There is another one being worked on at Ile du Port. “But we also want to have one in all districts. There are districts that already have one macro-enterprise example the one at Anse Boileau. But it has been there for many years. Now we have a project to construct a new and much larger one to replace it,” he said.
He noted there is also demand in all districts because some people although they agree with the Providence or Perseverance ones, they have also expressed the wish to have one somewhere close to where they live.
“So we are identifying suitable and available plots of land and we are working jointly with the Ministry of Land Use and Housing for such a purpose,” the minister explained.
But there are some businesses who have achieved a certain standard and to move to the next level they need a much bigger place. Such types will have to move on the industrial zone.
“Like the President has said, regarding the Providence macro-enterprise, the occupancy is almost full. To be able to meet the demand being lodged at my ministry for more space, which shows more demand than available space, we are working together with Land Use and Housing to re-look into Providence Industrial Estate to identify spaces or areas that can be turned into industrial zones.
“The government will have a longer term plan on how we can develop more land to offer to our businessmen. Because there are places that we have visited where businesses have severe space constraints,” noted Minister Benstrong.
Space for garage is of high demand because there are many people who are involved in this area. There are those in the bakery business. They want to develop their business at their residence as they already have available land.
“My ministry will help them complete their formalities to gain the necessary approval to enlarge their business at their home. As for garages, the macro-enterprises we are about to develop will cater more for such activities,” said the minister.
“If a district has two macro-enterprises for example, we need to have a location dedicated to more heavy duty businesses like garage or carpentry workshops and one for light duties like craft work, sewing, barbers, hair dressing salon.
“We cannot put a garage near a barber shop for example. It won’t work.
So we have a mix, For example if we look at the macro-enterprise at Providence, we have done exactly that. In that same building there are different zones where specific areas have been earmarked for specific activities,” the minister pointed out.
“As we develop it is very important we remain focussed on what type of activity that will happen. And to be able to do that we have to carry out an analysis.
This is part of what my ministry has been created for. We have continued the work and now we are better placed where we have a database. Now we can say how big the demand is for such and such activity in a district. This will help us in our negotiating process with other agencies like Land Use and Housing for available land and the environment,” Minister Benstrong said.