Government and SMEs in the Maldives and Mauritius

Sambajee, Pratima and Dhomun, Mehdi Zulficar Azad (2015) Government and SMEs in the Maldives and Mauritius. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour and Research, 21 (6). pp. 778-795. ISSN 1355-2554

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    Abstract

    The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast the role of government in the development of SMEs in the Maldives and Mauritius. Using tourism SMEs, it seeks to identify, analyse and compare strategies deployed by SMEs operating in an “enabling” and a “constrained” business environment.  An inductive approach to qualitative research is undertaken using seventeen semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders identified though a stakeholder analysis. Using multiple sources (six government officials, eight SME owner/managers, one private bank owner, one academic and one resort owner), variations and consensus in the data were identified through thematic analysis.  The Maldivian Government is less proactive in supporting its SMEs compared to the Mauritian Government. Its failure to facilitate access to finance and provide business support services has led the Maldivian SMEs to use multiple methods of bootstrapping to sustain existing businesses and/or start new ones. In contrast, despite operating in a more enabling business environment, Mauritian SMEs were found to engage in similar strategies due to lack of trust in government-led initiatives. Practical implications – Policy-makers in island economies can use the findings to inform decision making in SME development planning.  While this research adds to the sparse literature on government and SME development in island economies, it also highlights the relevance of bootstrapping for SMEs operating in economically constrained environments.