The names of the five nominees for the Entrepreneur of the Year 2014 title, under the AfrAsia Tecoma Awards, were made public this week at the Labourdonnais Hotel in Port Louis.

The grand winner will be revealed at the AfrAsia Tecoma Award to be held on October 17 at the Vivéa Business Park.

The five nominees are: Aisha Allee, Managing Director at Blast Communications; Vincent d’Unienville, Managing Director at Keystone Project Management; Ravi Jetshan, Creative Director at Ravior; Christian Regnard, Managing Director at Associated Textiles; and finally, Lawrence Wong, Managing Director at La Trobe.

Mauritius is well known for innovating at a macro-economic level, having successfully transitioned from a sugar-led island economy to a service-based nation, and it can look to diversifying its economic portfolio even further, based on its dynamic entrepreneurs.

Incidentally, each of the five business leaders nominated for the award represent spheres of activities from diverse sectors – project management, communications, jewellery, textile and commerce – which are all displaying robust growth.

This year sees the launch of the AfrAsia Tecoma Espoir under which each nominee will sponsor a young entrepreneur of his or her choice whose entrepreneurial venture must at least have been in existence for a year, but no more than four years.

The nominee must make a firm commitment to meet the sponsored entrepreneur at least once a semester to guide him on business development, strategy and networking.

James Benoit, CEO at AfrAsia Bank – which is into its third year of sponsoring the awards – noted that entrepreneurship is the lifeblood of the sustainability and the prosperity of the island business community.

The selection of the entrepreneur of the year is done by TNS analysis, also an event partner, through a survey of directors of 200 Mauritian companies which have at least six employees or more.

The selection criteria are growth of turnover, innovation, external dynamism, and commitment to citizenship.

The surveyed directors then award votes to the nominees on each of these criteria, which results in four different classifications, and the entrepreneur of the year is the one who notches up the maximum votes across all criteria.

In this context, Aisha Allee emphasized the humble beginnings of her public relations agency as a start-up and today, the communications major generates a turnover of over one million euros (around Rs 40 million).

As for Vincent d’Unienville, he opened a project management office in Rwanda, operating within the limited framework of a construction site for a school and extension of residential projects to start with. His company’s turnover is around one million euros (around Rs 40 million) today.

Ravi Jetshan dedicated the nomination to his employees, whom he considers as being an integral part of his family, and as date, his jewellery brand Ravior has managed a turnover of Rs 17.4 million.

As for Christian Regnard, his textile business turnover reached Rs 133 million, after overcoming several challenges such as the end of trade barriers, by being innovative and conquering new markets.

Finally, Lawrence Wong who leveraged the innovative agri-food sector to his advantage, beginning with trading before diversifying into production, now boasts a turnover of Rs 400 million for his venture, La Trobe.

The AfrAsia Tecoma Award is a recognition ranking high in the economic world, which aims at promoting entrepreneurship in Mauritius.

Since the launch of the awards, now into its twelfth edition, more than 170 business leaders from different sectors and across all categories of companies, have been highlighted and shown as examples of success across the three Indian Ocean islands of Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius.

Image (File Photo from AfrAsia Tecoma Awards, 2013): The 2013 edition of the AfrAsia Tecoma Entrepreneur of the Year awards was a huge success and, following on its heels, this year sees the launch of the AfrAsia Tecoma Espoir under which each nominee will sponsor a young entrepreneur of his or her choice.

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