Report: Marvellous Mauritius
Media: Lufthansa Inflight Magazine
Publication Date: January 2016
A Model to Emulate
As Mauritius seeks to become a nation of entrepreneurs, the newly created MauBank has made supporting the island’s SMEs a top priority. CEO Sridhar Nagarajan believes other countries could emulate the bank’s model at a time when governments around the world are trying to find ways to grow this business sector.
Little things often make a difference. Case in point: Mauritius, which seeks to make small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) the backbone of future growth. SMEs, not only in Mauritius but globally, often have trouble securing financing for their businesses – even if they have a track record of success. MauBank, a bank established at the end of 2015, is set to change this and is thinking big as it targets the SME market. With the Government as a partner, MauBank believes Mauritius’ new approach to supporting small businesses could be exported to other countries in Africa and elsewhere.
Unlocking SME’s Potential
The bank, now the third largest domestic bank in Mauritius, has risen from the merger of Mauritius Post and Cooperative Bank (MPCB) and the National Commercial Bank (NCB), two banks bailed out by the government. While MauBank aims to be a fully fledged bank offering the entire service spectrum, the bank has specifically been tasked to spearhead government’s drive to transform Mauritius into a nation of entrepreneurs and to facilitate funding to SMEs and start-ups. “Most banks just reject projects that they consider not bankable, they usually do not offer entrepreneurs support and assistance in making their businesses eligible for finance,” says Sridhar Nagarajan, CEO of MauBank. “However, at MauBank, we are ready to go the extra mile, offering early-stage companies, start-ups and SME’s expert advice in how to grow their businesses.”
Despite the meteoric rise of crowdfunding platforms, where companies can find investors willing to finance higher risk ventures, Nagarajan believes this level of support is crucial if Mauritius wants to increase SMEs’ contribution to GDP, which currently stands at 40%. He highlights that many SMEs know their core business but lack know-how and skills in areas such as marketing, finance and corporate governance. While MauBank’s plans for the future also include the set up of a training academy for staff and clients, the bank seeks to develop an ecosystem of support for SMEs, roping in accountants, business consultants and other service providers. “It is this integrated approach towards creating an SME nurturing eco-system, which makes it very unique, and it is possible because of funding and grant schemes provided by the Mauritian Government.”
Building a Broad-based Business
While much of MauBank’s immediate focus is on the SME sector, Nagarajan, who can look back at a long career in international banking, also seeks to consolidate the bank’s corporate, retail and international banking business. With a balance sheet of US$ 1 billion and 400,000 customers at launch, MauBank is keen to establish itself as competitor to Mauritius’ two largest banks: MCB and SBM. “I hope that in two years’ time, 40% of our profits are derived from retail banking and 40% from domestic corporate banking,” he says. Africa is also on the bank’s agenda, supporting the government’s push to make Mauritius a finance and investment hub for the entire African continent. Profits from international banking – foreign firms using Mauritius’ finance infrastructure – today account for less than 1%. Nagarajan wants to see this grow to 20%. SMEs will also remain a key part of MauBank’s strategy. “We see it as a pilot project: if it is successful in Mauritius, we can take it to Africa and Asia.”
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