Entrepreneurs learn more on Blue Economy opportunities |07 October 2021
The Enterprise Seychelles Agency (Esa) organised an awareness and capacity building session yesterday for staff in the Blue Economy sector.
The one-day workshop was aimed at developing entrepreneurship in the sector for entrepreneurs in micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
It is a project in collaboration with the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) entitled ‘Entrepreneurship Development in the Blue Economy Sector through Capacity Building for MSMEs & Esa Staff’.
Other partners include the department of the Blue Economy, Seychelles Fishing Authority, Development Bank of Seychelles, Eco-Sol, Environment department and other private consultants involved in the aspect of business development, health and safety and sustainable practices.
The workshop was held at the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) conference room for entrepreneurs and would be entrepreneurs interested to venture into Blue economy projects.
Only a small group was in attendance to learn about opportunities in the sector related to port, fisheries, tourism, value addition, costal management, among others, including newly introduced marine biotechnology.
ESA benefited with a grant of R1 million under the SeyCCAT Blue Grant Fund and it is being used to advocate capacity building and awareness towards the implementation of blue economy projects.
It is the first time SeyCCAT funded a government agency like Esa and its national mandate to support MSMEs to access blue finance.
In his opening address, the principal secretary for Blue Economy, Kenneth Racombo, said that as we have through our history relished in the ocean’s bounty and coastal features, such as through fisheries and tourism, it cannot be viewed now as a sink of finite resources; and consequently the innovation and creativity elements that we would have to inject into our socio-economic to make them sustainable or last for generations to come.
“What is therefore fundamental for entrepreneurs to know and to appreciate with the Blue economy is that it advocates for a new way of doing business and no longer business as usual,” PS Racombo said.
He stated that sensitisation and awareness-raising sessions are instrumental in project implementation as it makes provision for information sharing which thereby increase clarity, visibility and better guidance and constructive coordination of actions taken.
PS Racombo noted it is mostly through partnerships that the country has been able to make its mark on the global platform with the unique and renowned blue economy related achievements such as the debt swap, the blue bonds and the Joint Management Area in the Mascarene Plateau region.
Delivering the keynote address, Mumtaz Hasan, grant manager at SeyCCAT, said the organisation’s mission is to strategically invest in ocean stakeholders to generate new learning, bold action and sustainable blue prosperity in Seychelles.
She noted that SeyCCAT provides access to finance for all Seychellois, even small individuals such as students, everyday regular people, small artisanal fishermen/women and even support to help them prepare their application documents.
“Our small blue grants fund, known as BGF, funds blue economy entrepreneurial initiatives for up to R100,000. There is also a larger grant that Seychellois can access up to R2,000,000. The sectors eligible for financing under the BGF include fisheries, marine research, marine conservation and aquaculture,” Ms Hasan said.
She noted that these grants are open to the public for application once a year, usually around May for a six-week window and aimed at piloting viable blue economy businesses considering environmental and social justice perspectives.
The basis of the project follows an Eco-Sol Consulting survey held in 2019. Findings revealed that young Seychellois entrepreneurs are reluctant to venture in the blue economy entrepreneurship field for reasons such as, lack of access to financing,risk adverse and lacking confidence, preferring to copy tried and tested approaches than try new experimental projects, inexperience and lacking the ability to conceptualise new enterprises.
In her welcoming remarks, the chief executive of Esa, Angelic Appoo, said that from Eco-Sol’s project, Esa is helping to bridge the gaps identified in the survey to create sustainable job opportunities and enterprises in the Blue Economy.
She said that four capacity workshops will be organised across Mahé, Praslin and La Digue this year as well as four training sessions to be held early 2022.
She added that the project was planned for 2020 but had to be cancelled due to Covid-19.
“Awareness about the Blue Economy sector will rise and with this project, we want to see a rise in the number of approved SeyCCAT grant applications for 2022. Therefore, I welcome you all to join us for the trainings to be held in March and April 2022, right before BGF6 is launched,” Ms Appoo said.
Apart from business and job opportunities in the Blue Economy sector, topics covered also were awareness on aquaculture, Blue financing, waste management plan and awareness around the sector’s related environment and safety management plans.
Photos by Louis Toussaint