Small Online businesses in Mauritius

Written by: Tasnim Domun and Nouf Gounjaria

Submitted as part of an assignment for the Digital Journalism module at the University of Mauritius

Make a beginning – Small online businesses in Mauritius

To begin with, a small enterprise is an independently owned and operated company that is limited in size and in revenue, depending on the industry. Many individuals, be it teenagers, young adults, or housewives, they are submerging themselves in online businesses, especially after the outbreak of the coronavirus and the confinements. Some ideal examples of online businesses booming online are, clothing line, skincare, makeup, scrunchies, crafts/accessories, cooking/baking, writers, e-commerce etc.

While in the past many Mauritians used websites more for obtaining information than for purchasing, this has changed during the confinement as companies switched to online platforms to sell their products. Many smaller Mauritian businesses, presently, prefer to use social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to reach their target market. Interestingly, the country has upgraded to fiber-broadband with speeds between 10MB and 30MB, because the speed and bandwidth required for modern e-commerce transactions are lacking in some of the more remote places in Mauritius.

According to Sunibel Corporate Services, luckily, being a part of Africa, Mauritius has the objective, and is committed to accelerate the country’s move to an age of digitally enabled economic growth. According to McKinsey Global Institute’s “Lions go digital: The Internet’s transformative potential in Africa” 2013 report, the firm projected that annual online sales could reach USD 75 billion by 2025. With Africa’s in internet connections growth from 2.1% in 2005 to 24% in 2018, no wonder why the continent’s is an attractive place for e-commerce.

Instagram Businesses

Instagram is a popular platform for people to buy and discover products.

90 % of Instagram users are subscribed to a business account.

70 % of shoppers use Instagram to discover new products.

Source: Instagram

This post comprises of a selection of online businesses in Mauritius, inclusive of their slight sketches. Firstly Adiba of Secrets of Curls & Curves will share her story, followed by Kareema, a baker and Arielle Bousoula, owner of an online scrunchy business.

Adiba, a content creator, beauty influencer and an appreciated makeup artist on social media.

Adiba – Owner of Secrets of Curls & Curves

The young entrepreneur runs two formal businesses. One is offering Makeup Artistry services + consultations, that is, helping each individual creating personalized makeup/skincare routines, and her second business is her brand Secrets of Curls & Curves which offers digital content creation services [Photography, Videography, Copywriting and Templates designing for businesses + influencer marketing services [Ads production & brand promotion].

Indeed, to start a business you need ideas. Continue reading to discover Adiba’s ideas for her start up.

The ideas came to me after getting my routines and practices disrupted by 2 skin conditions, which also meant I couldn’t pursue my childhood dream job anymore. I felt lost and was just trying to learn new things, got into makeup and blogging- a year after being into both I started being noticed by big brands and haven’t stopped improving since! It’s now officially 2 years that I turned these passion projects into businesses.”

Being a full time student at the University, the beauty influencer has managed to run two side businesses. Besides, she is on a solo trip, but she does hire contractors if some tasks need to be delegated.

Being a digital creator means having an online presence. The owner of Secrets of Curls & Curves shares how being established online is advantageous and favorable for her businesses.

“Having an online presence is definitely what helped my business bloom since the start, the audience that I have been able to nurture over the years are the reason I turned my passion projects into businesses. Having an online presence for my businesses helped me reach more people- not restricted within my country borders. I work with brands and people from all over the world!”

Surely, to run a business, an entrepreneur needs to have a clientele, and this contributes to the growth of the business. Adiba says that she has loyal customers and audience. They are anyone from individuals, small businesses, big corporate brands, local brands, international brands. She adds that some of her services are advertised on her socials, and some are services she offers upon requests due to her tight schedule from still being a full time student. She shares that her business is growing well, but the Makeup Artistry business did hit a stop with the spread of Covid-19 and all the restrictions & fear which go along with it.

Besides, the young entrepreneur left a previous job, to manage her current business.

“I was working at my family restaurant managing the customer and food packing services. To have enough time to grow my businesses and to study, I had to consequently minimize the time I was spending at my restaurant.”

Goals and motivation are crucial for success and accomplishment. Adiba shares her goals.

“For the digital brand, my goals are getting my website & blog live and work with more local SMEs as well as international brands. For the Makeup Artistry business, my goals are to builder a stronger client base, host Makeup Artistry classes for personal uses and also to coach individuals into pro makeup artists working with a creative standard.”

Maybe an advice from the young entrepreneur will help you for your future startups?

Focus on yourself first, find what you like and what you don’t. Then make a plan of where you want to be in the short and long term and be consistent in putting in the work. For example, in 6 months, in a year, in 5 years. Having a plan helps you see the pathway to reach your goal much easier and believe me! Often times the goals are achieved before your set deadline!

Adiba’s Makeup/artwork
Adiba’s Makeup/artwork

The next online entrepreneur is a baker. The following is an interview with Kareema Mahamoodally. She has her own Instagram page to showcase her sweet goodies, and in the following video she shares her business story, growth, online presence and other stuffs.

Arielle Bousoula – Online entrepreneur

With more time on our hands to reflect on what we want from life and our careers, many entrepreneurs made the best of a bad situation, turning their side hustles and part-time passions into fully-fledged businesses.

The devastating economic impact of the coronavirus on entrepreneurs is painful but inevitable. For small businesses to survive the pandemic consequences is extremely hard.

During the past few weeks, we have been virtually meeting successful entrepreneurs operating on an online basis to find out more on how they tackle the world of business.

1. Entrepreneur for 4 years, Arielle Bousoula has launched her side business just before the second lockdown. She makes silk accessories such as scrunchies and hair bonnets. She owns 2 business; a model agency and a retail accessory business. Due to the harsh impact of covid 19 on her model agency, she decided to launch a side business to have a second source of income. Her small online operating business is in the formal sector but she does not yet pay taxes as it has been a few month since its opening. Amid slowing economic activity, COVID-19 has led to a rise in e-commerce and online shopping activities. As lock-downs has become the new normal,  customers and businesses are progressively shifting to digital platforms to stay competitive during the pandemic.  For Arielle, her business has seen a boost in sales during the lockdown. Her best business advice to others is to be flexible and adapt to meet customers’ needs.

2. Coralie and her two sisters are young successful entrepreneurs who took a leap to start and operate an online skincare and makeup business. All the 3 ladies have their full time job and decided to do a business in which they are very much passionate about as a side hustle. Since they are in the formal sector and their business is registered, they do not yet have to pay tax. Their journey has not always been easy. With the coming of the covid 19 pandemic, the fact that there has been an increase in foreign exchange this has definitely affected their buying and selling cost. Not surprisingly. Another common issue they are currently facing is that customs are taking much more longer due to backlogs and less flight to Mauritius. Since they are really into their business, they have not give up. Their best business advice to start ups and small business owners is ” Find your tribe, keep going and do not give up no matter what.” 

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