A Mauritian Startup Guide

Part 2: Set Up 

Once you have passed the idea stage you are ready to take the plunge and set up your business.

There is a lot to cover in this segment and I have tried to summarise the key point.

First things first registration:

Business registration:

https://www.mcci.org/en/inside-mauritius/doing-business/start-a-business/registration-of-business/

Ranked 20 out of 190 countries surveyed, Mauritius has made great strides to encourage entrepreneurship by streamlining business registration processes. This effort earned Mauritius an impressive score of 94.5 out of a 100 for ease of starting a business.

https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/mauritius

 

In practice the process is simple and can be done online in a matter of days.

1.       Register with MNS https://mns.mu/.

2.       Once registered you will be allocated an Admin and User account.

3.       You can then proceed to the corporate and business registration portal https://portalmns.mu/cbris/MASTActionServlet?do=login#

Once there follow the steps, check business name availably and reserve name, define business structure and upload any necessary supporting documentation. Note if you are a foreigner you will need to ensure you have a Mauritian share holder or director and as a single person business (being the sole share holder and sole director) you are required to appoint a company sectary.

Once all documentation is submitted and approved it will take approximately 2 weeks to receive your BRN.

Bank Account:

The next crucial step in registration is setting up a business account. As with any personal account they are numerous banks and offers and you will need to do a bit of research to find out what works best for you and your company. A piece of advice, set up and opening of an account can be done in a few days if you are Mauritian and are the sole share holder and director of the company. However, if you are a foreigner or have several directors the process can become complex and drawn out. I have unfortunately experienced this first hand and had great difficulty when setting up my account.  I urge you to keep your structure to a single director and share holder until your account is set up, you will then be able to add directors or shareholders through the MNS portal with minimal effort or delay. Note as well that some banks will require you to have a trade licence before opening. (MCB doesn’t require trade license, Mau Bank does)

Trade License:

This at present can only be acquired by going to your local municipal council. The process is simple and requires your business documentation:  BRN, certificate of incorporation etc. Once application is in process it only takes a few days for delivery. Note however that depending on your business activity you may need to register with other regulators such as the Tourism Authority.

Register trademark:

This can be done at the trade mark office in Port Louise an is relatively inexpensive. International trademarks rise in cost drastically and you will need to carefully asses the pros and cons to your business before committing. It is also important to note that your trademark is per industry sector so if you operate in several sectors you will need multiple trademarks.

http://foreign.govmu.org/English/Pages/Industrial%20Property%20Office/Trade%20Marks/Guidelines.aspx

 

Additional support and funding:

SME Mauritius:

https://smemu.org/

Membership at SME Mauritius requires that you have a incorporated company and trade licence and have been in operation for at least 6 months. Once you have dully filled out forms and provided necessary documentation you will be able to benefit from numerous programs, including the SME Employment Scheme that enables you to employ a university graduate registered with SME Mauritius at no cost to your business, instead their wage (Rs 14,000) is paid by SME Mauritius. https://smemu.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/SME-SCHEMES-LE-MAURICIEN-WEEKEND-15X6COLS.jpg

MRIC grants:

The government have made great efforts to encourage innovation and offer several funding grants, although I feel more needs to be done to better communicate available grants to start-ups, better outline eligibility and streamline the application process that is currently slow and frustrating

Grants available:

·       Collaborative Research and Innovation Grant Scheme (GRIGS)

·       Intellectual Property Promotion Scheme (IPPS)

·       National SME Incubator Scheme (NSIS)

·       Proof of Concept Scheme (PCS)

·       Proof of Innovation Grant Scheme (PoIGS)

·       Research and Innovation Bridges (RIBS)

Intellectual property

·       the Patents, Industrial and Trademark Act 2002

·       The copyright Act 2017

·       The protection against unfair practices (industry Property Rights) Act 2002

For a more in-depth look at the grants on offer check out my previous article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-mauritian-innovation-strategy-jason-delorie/

 

Incubation:

ConnectMe Ltd is proud to be incubated by turbine and the MRC and I can personally attest to the benefit of such programs. Although no direct financial contribution is made to any start up in incubation (for now) the benefits come in the form of access to a variety of business experts including but not limited to legal, accounting & finance and marketing. They also provide personal business coaching and working address for business operations not to mention the ability to open doors and introduce you to the right people in your desired field. Payment of these benefit comes in the form of equity stake in your company, this is negotiable but is usually around 10%. Fully leveraging these tools and the support of an organisation behind you can make all the difference. I strongly suggest that any entrepreneur with a start-up apply for incubation, With the growing start-up eco system and the governments National SME Incubator Scheme there are now three accredited incubators:

  1. Turbine Incubator Ltd
  2. La Plage Factory
  3. Verde Ventures
 

Business plan:

Full business plan including accounts and financial projections. This will enable you to start a pitch desk, even if you are not looking for investment at the early stages a pitch desk is a great way to communicate your idea.

Design tools:

Forget expensive software Canva is the perfect low-cost development tool for your logo and marketing material. Granted once you grow you can look for graphic design services for better quality and development however at the start Canva is a great inexpensive way to create professional material.

I strongly advise that you do not download images from google for marketing material as it may be a breach of copywrite Laws. As many start-ups don’t have the budget to take professional photo shoots Unsplash is a great place to find copywrite free images. The same goes for icons and if you intend to incorporate icons in your material have a look at Flat icon

Marketing:

Make sure you have brand presence and are visible to your customers. At the early stage make sure you have accounts for Facebook, Linked In and Instagram. You will be able to further utilize the marketing tools available for each social network once you have the funds.

Google:

Is one of the most underutilized tools and has so much to offer. Google my business, G suite, Google analytics, google search console to mention but a few.

Website: complexity, wordpress, wix, Java script, python etc

Even if you are not entering the online or e-commerce space with your start-up, having a website is essential in today’s business environment. With all the tools available such as Word press & wix you can develop a simple website with no coding experience and limited funds. Depending on the complexity of the website and if you are building the website from scratch the cost can grow exponentially. With TutorMe we made the strategic decision to build from scratch at a high investment cost, however our model is complex and will be an asset for our company. 

 

Although there is so much in this stage that I haven’t included I hope that some of the information provide proves useful on your entrepreneurial journey.

 

Next we will look at the Execution stage followed by Growth and scale. (coming soon)

 

 

Guest Writer

Jason Delorie

Jason Delorie, is the Co-Founder and CEO at TutorMe, an award-winning EdTech start-up.

Driven by a passion for innovation, Jason enjoys looking at problems from a different perspective, with the aim of finding a creative, simple solution. In addition, he currently holds the position of Innovation Coordinator at ENL Group. Apart from innovation, he has a deep passion for technology & entrepreneurship and hopes to use his influence to help build a thriving start-up ecosystem in Mauritius.