Bruneau Woomed, trainer, life coach and entrepreneur, spoke to AfricaMoney on how the training landscape in Mauritius is becoming increasingly vibrant with “Build Your Business” programmes taking entrepreneurship to the next level. He also spoke about how companies must move from a “tick-box” approach towards corporate governance, to one that fully embraces the principles of corporate governance.

  • What are the key achievements of Business Magic Ltd since inception?

Business Magic Ltd is a company created in July 2013 with myself and Megha Venketasamy as co-founders. We are both qualified coaches and have complementary skills – Megha is a detailed person, she is very creative and works at the speed of light once we agree on the course of action. I am a more global person and I bring to the team my wide experience of training and of business in general. We have a great working relationship based on trust and open communication.

Over a period of 1.5 years, our key achievements have been the adaptation to grassroots levels of the WIN Leadership Program which we successfully tested, a change process at an NGO, Etoile d’espérance, the launch in 2014 of the “Build your Business” training course with 60 participants and a pilot project on Entrepreneurship Education with the Ministry of Education. And, in December 2014, I ran a Training of Trainers for BYB in Madagascar under the aegis of Microsoft and we had 3 wonderful days with 46 participants.

  • What are the key projects that Business Magic Ltd is currently working on?

The pilot project on Entrepreneurship Education in Lower VI was very successful and it is being extended to some 35 schools in 2015. We are building up capacity of facilitators and conducted a training of trainers. These trainers will now be training their peers – other facilitators and we will be there to give support and advice.

We will soon launch the second edition of “Build your Business” and we will rely on the enthusiasm and dynamism of the first BYB graduates to do the marketing.

  • Could you comment on your experience so far as trainer in Corporate Governance?

I am an accredited trainer in Corporate Governance and recently became certified to run Board Evaluations.  I salute the great work done by the Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) under the dynamic leadership of Jane Valls.

All large companies know about Corporate Governance but we must move from a “Tick the box” culture to a culture that fully embraces Corporate Governance principles from top to bottom.

Smaller companies are not really up to date and thus, there is still a lot of work to be done and I truly believe that this is the way forward.

However, it is seen that the government itself, as well as state owned companies, are still on the sidelines – but there are exceptions.

  • In September, you were the facilitator at the MIoD’s workshop on corporate finance.  Can you tell us the main issues raised by the participants and how you addressed them?

I would say that the main issues raised were linked to the appropriate techniques to be used to determine whether or not to go ahead with a capital intensive project. Board Directors need to be aware of the various assumptions being made so that they are able to challenge them. We do not expect them to run the calculations themselves but they need to understand the methods used and hence the conclusions presented to them.

  • Based on your experience in corporate governance, what would you consider the main reasons why a company would issue debt rather than equity to finance its operations?

Let me first say that I teach on a part-time basis Corporate Finance at CTI. Now, in the Corporate Finance literature, it is shown that Debt increases the value of a Company (due to the fact that interest costs are deducted from tax). However, too much debt is not recommended and thus a company needs to determine its optimal Debt/Equity ratio.

There are other factors which come into play, in particular the banking environment and the overall country culture.

  • Do you think there is progress in terms of good governance in Mauritius? Any key instances you would like to highlight?

Mauritius has definitely progressed on the road of good governance. MIoD is one of the bodies promoting good governance and is really doing a great job.

I have seen a very positive sign in the recent nomination of Roshi Bhadain as Minister of Good governance and I am looking forward to see the initiatives that will be taken.

  • Finally, please provide your views on the way forward for good governance in Mauritius.

As mentioned above, I would like to see government service and state owned companies embrace fully the good governance principles.

I believe some of the requirements should be simplified so that more small companies adopt these principles.

Finally, I really hope that the new Minister of Good governance will work with all stakeholders and come up with exciting initiatives that will motivate everyone to adopt good governance as a way of doing business because this will make Mauritius become a reference not only in the region but in the world.

Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview

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