Standard Bank KZN Top Business Women 2021, Monique Labat

Monique Labat was born in Mauritius, and she holds dual citizenship – Mauritian and South African. Her family moved to South Africa when she was five years old.

Monique reflects that it is advantageous to speak more than one language. French is her home language, she did German at school, and has enjoyed a basic isiZulu course. The reason she says is that it’s always wonderful to greet people in their home language. To this day, French has stood her in good stead as her company, Monique Labat Consulting engages with companies in Mauritius, Reunion Island and in France.

She established Monique Labat Consulting in August 2011 to provide valuable specialist skills to both public and private sector clients. Monique consults to local and international clients on market linkages and business to business opportunities, co-ordinates detailed programmes and itineraries for international trade, investment and inward buying delegations and compiles market intelligence reports for multiple industry sectors.

A learnt skill

Her career has spanned the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the City of Durban’s Investment Promotion Agency as well as Tradepoint South Africa Durban. These roles have meant extensive international and local travel promoting Durban as an investment location and presenting at Durban’s Sister Cities abroad and at the global World Trade Point Federation conferences.

“My business in community achievements means being able to communicate both with small and corporate companies. It’s a learnt skill which I picked up at the Durban Chamber of Commerce early on in my career. One of my team’s best achievements is that the Chamber was fielding over 60 000 business enquiries. What that meant, was that those Chamber members were able to use the research that we had compiled for them to grow their businesses in order to retain their staff, and to grow their export opportunities.”

Monique says that she got to where she is today thanks to her love of working at the Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber’s senior management were instrumental in mentoring and teaching her about business processes and the role of effective lobbying to ensure retention of member companies for the Chamber. “The Chamber senior management, motivated and encouraged us to grow our own networks within the organisation and with the member companies. The reason I was inspired was that they gave us the time, the energy and the support needed to grow ourselves within the organisation. To this day, I’m particularly grateful to my senior manager, Nadia Thomson who played a wonderful role at the Chamber for many years.”

Being mindful to others

One of the challenges Monique has found is that in South Africa, people are quick to jump to conclusions and have pre-conceived ideas. In response, she finds that listening and being mindful to others stands you in good stead. “Rather ask questions and listen to those responses. That way you will learn far more, and you will gain a greater empathetic understanding of the colleagues that you work with, the clients that engage with you, as well friends and family,” says Monique.

An active Rotarian, Monique volunteers her time and resources to assist communities within the greater Durban area. Her core values are in line with Rotary’s motto, ‘Service above self ’. Her future goals are to continue learning, and to continue volunteering through her Rotary club.

“My husband and I look forward to leaving behind an education legacy through Rotary, which is the creation of an ambassadorial and peace scholarship. We are actively engaging with the youth on a new project at the moment, with my business associate, where we are looking at training youth to become drone pilots in various industry sectors.”

One of Monique’s passions is to support young women in Durban during August, which is Women’s Month. “It’s not difficult to put together business opportunities in a box for young women, so that they can start-up their own small business. That small business could be a greetings card business, it could be a start-up baking business from home, it could be sewing, it could be a knitting project. Buy a table for them at the eThekwini small business fair, it doesn’t cost a lot. Train them on what they can expect when they have people popping into visit them at their stands and see how they will grow themselves as entrepreneurs; thanks to that opportunity you have afforded to them.”

When asked how she strives to make a difference in her business or community, Monique says that is easy for her to answer. “By providing pro bono advice and assistance to small, medium, and micro enterprises throughout KwaZulu-Natal. By connecting those businesses to the larger corporates and demonstrating to them that opportunities exist and that they are not to be discouraged and rather to grab the opportunities with open hands and open minds. In this regard, Monique says that the advice that she would give to any young women, is to give back to the community within which you live and work, volunteer your time, and assist others where possible. Even if you don’t have employment at the outset, ask those that you are volunteering for, to write a letter of reference for you explaining how you’ve helped them and what you did.”

Living her dream

A foodie at heart, Monique lived her dream and 10 years ago, spent three months at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. Monique’s first cookbook comprising 100 recipes and full colour photographs was self-published. Monique gives presentations and food demos all over the country and has spoken at many Rotary Clubs and business organisations.

One of Monique’s favourite presentations is entitled “Mauritius: Two Centuries of Cuisine”, a nod to her birthplace in the Indian Ocean. For each cookbook sold, Monique donates R10 to Rotary Foundation’s #EndPolioNow Campaign.

 

POST- COVID-19 L’Express Media Article

Rethinking the strategy Mauritius-Africa for a new economic partnership

The economic consequences of Covid-19 opens up new opportunities of doing business in Africa and is redefining Mauritius’ Africa strategy. This, essentially, is what emerged from a webinar organised by Mon Trésor Ltd, a subsidiary of the group Omnicane. This online conference united a group of specialists to address the issue. The identified channels went from global business to digitalisation, encompassing the manufacturing sector and the agro-industry sector.

Jacques d’Unienville, Director of Omnicane, was emphatic: the situation post Covid-19 signals a new strategy, a new way of thinking which will benefit both local and regional markets.  Thus, food security, energy and health sectors, he said, should translate as a matter of urgency in the wake of this crisis, to swiftly manufacture for the domestic market whilst simultaneously adding value.

The Group’s involvement in property development and the logistics of the freeport, heralded a new context which required a rethinking of Omnicane’s projects in this part of the country advised Jacques d’Unienville. He underlined the importance of the Freeport as a dynamic sector, embracing a turnover of US$ 1 billion. Omnicane has also extended an invitation to regional partners to accompany the Group in their new projects. «We would like to opt for high value-add products, whilst leaning on regional brands», emphasised Jacques d’Unienville.

The interim CEO of the Economic Development Board, Ken Poonoosamy asserted that with the arrival of the confinement, the importance of digilitisation as a future niche for operators seeking commercial opportunities in Africa was advantageous. He indicated that Mauritius, to this end, has developed a «cloud computing» platform destined to serve the continent. Conscious of the necessity of developing the pharmaceutical sector following the effect of the health pandemic, Ken Poonoosamy affirmed his conviction to see Mauritius position itself to take advantage of the vast regional market.

Faced with numerous challenges which confront global business today, the Mauritian jurisdiction has all the necessary tools to succeed. This was the view of Sridhar Nagarajan, Regional Managing Director  of IQ-EQ, ex-Cim Global. He insisted that the authorities multiply their initiatives to extricate Mauritius from the European Union’s black list and the Financial Action Group’s grey list.

This webinar, which was chaired by Amedée Darga, allowed other presenters to outline the economic partnership between Mauritius and Africa, namely Lilowtee Rajmun-Jooseery, Director of MEXA; Dr McLean Sibanda, Director of Bigen Global Ltd, and Monique Labat, of Monique Labat Consulting (Pty) Ltd.

Villen ANGANAN

Strengthening Relations with South African Buyers and Investors

Economic Development Board Mauritius July 2018 Newsletter

In view of its membership to SADC, geographical proximity to the region amongst others, Mauritius acts as the gateway to the African Continent. Over the last decades, Mauritius and South Africa have strengthened their business ties and today South Africa has grown into an important trade and investment partner for Mauritius. Indeed, it has been observed that exports from Mauritius to South Africa escalated from MUR 3.2BN in 2010 to reach MUR 6.4 BN in 2017.. It is currently the third export market for apparel products from Mauritius just after USA and UK. It is also worth noting that Mauritian manufacturers are supplying leading retailers such as Woolworths, Truworths, Edgars, Edcon, Adidas and Puma among others.

From an investment perspective, Mauritius remains an attractive investment location for South African investors and entrepreneurs. A conducive business environment, political stability, a bilingual workforce, the quality of life are amongst the key contributors in making Mauritius the ideal location for the South African business community. In 2017, FDI from South Africa amounted to MUR 1,8 BN, and nearly 785 occupation permits were issued to South African nationals, with the majority of them being employed as professionals. An increasing interest by South African nationals to consider Mauritius as a potential manufacturing base in being noted.

With a view to further consolidating its market share and promoting investment as part of its trade and investment promotion strategy, the Economic Development Board- conducted a Promotion Mission in South Africa from 19th to 26th June 2018, targeting three major cities, namely Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The Trade and Investment Promotion Mission entailed the following:

  • Business Forum and Buyers Sellers Meeting, Durban, 19 June 2018
  • Participation in Source Africa International Apparel Fair, Cape Town, 20-21 June 2018
  • Business Forum, Cape Town, 22 June 2018
  • Business Forum and Buyers Sellers Meeting, Johannesburg, 25-26 June 2018
  • The delegation was led by Mr. Arvind Radhakrishna and comprised the participation of around 26 local enterprises, representatives from Mauritius Freeport Development Ltd, Trade Park Mon Tresor and Airports of Mauritius Ltd.

The main objectives of the meetings and business forums were to showcase the investment opportunities in Mauritius, target high value-added manufacturing companies having a regional expansion and diversification strategy as well as position Mauritius as a sourcing destination for textile and apparels.

The Buyers and Sellers Meetings and the Business Forums provided a good opportunity to create better awareness about the trade and investment opportunities in Mauritius in the different sectors of activity. Contacts have been established with different chambers of commerce as well as potential investors. It is worth highlighting that more than 300 business people attended the business forums held in 3 cities. Moreover, the mission generated 30 strong leads.

Interest was shown by investors in a wide range of sectors of activity, namely in the setting up of a manufacturing knitted fabric plant, manufacturing of outdoor furniture, jewelry, digital printing, real estate, freeport and automotive industry.

The Mauritian trade delegation also participated in the ‘Source Africa’ fair held in Cape Town on 21 and 22 June 2018. Source Africa is the only apparel sourcing event on the African continent bringing together suppliers, manufacturers, service providers and buyers from the region under one roof. It is now owned by Messe Frankfurt which is the third largest trade fair company in the world with operations in over 50 countries and which is the global leader in textile and apparel fairs.

Source Africa 2018 attracted over 1,400 visitors over the two-day period. Participation in this event enabled Mauritian apparel operators to consolidate business relationships with several major South African apparel buyers such as Zando, Edcon, Edgars, TFG, Woolworths, Oliver, Cherry Melon, Pep Stores, Chilli Source, Kevro, Sissi Boy and Truworths International.

For the 2018 edition, Mauritius was selected as the “Official Country Partner”, which provided visibility in all communications of Source Africa fair. The collections of some Mauritian apparel factories namely Fine Textiles Ltd, Fit-U garment Ltd, Shivani Manufacturing Ltd and Tex Group were showcased by experienced models. B2B meetings were also held for the apparel operators during the event.

An aggressive follow up and investment facilitation will be carried out with the strong leads established with a view to enable the implementation of these projects. In view of the increasing interest demonstrated by the business community, the EDB through its Economic and Trade Office in South Africa will continue to engage with the business community.

BR&E Programme kicks off in New Germany!

Creating jobs has become top priority nationally in view of South Africa’s 27.6% unemployment rate. In tackling this challenge, it is essential to remember that 60-80% of all new jobs are created by existing businesses, whom are also responsible for 70% local investment.  Moreover, actions that create an environment in which existing businesses can flourish will also benefit new businesses and attract the interest of outside investors.

Business Retention & Expansion in eThekwini

eThekwini Municipality has been active in the Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) programme in a number of ways. The Municipality’s role in the Toyota expansion is a prime example as is its support for clustering initiatives and for catalytic infrastructure developments. Since 2005 Durban Investment Promotion has conducted six BR&E programmes in partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, plus other localised Business bodies.

These have impacted on some 3,500 businesses using a locally driven process that surveys business needs and priorities while mobilising business and other local role-players to address them. A key lesson of the City’s Investment Promotion programme has been that the quality of the process plays a major part in determining the action that follows. Analysis of key issues in each area has been formalised and properly reported on for all to work on.

Common issues of concern to business revealed by these surveys in the past include crime and grime, skills shortages, heavy vehicle traffic congestion, waste and electricity supply problems and the need to improve how local business is organised.

At the Business Retention & Expansion event on Thursday 9 June, The Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality, Councillor Logie Naidoo and President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr Zeph Ndlovu officiated and launched the BR&E Programme. Russell Curtis, HOD of Durban Investment Promotion outlined the importance of the BR&E Programme in retaining jobs and attracting investment.

Business was advised of the Go!Durban progress by Head of the eThekwini Transport Authority, Mr Thami Manyathi. Business opportunities surrounding the procurement of the transport components would further emerge in 2017/2018 once the transport network was operational. Dr Nuthan Maharaj, Senior Professional Planner in the Economic Development and Investment Promotion Unit of the eThekwini Municipality alerted business persons attending the Launch about the new Incentive Policy set to kick off on the 1st 1July 2016. A new One-Stop Shop would provide existing and new large investors to the City with support through the regulatory and infrastructure provision processes, plus would manage the incentive application procedure for the catalytic projects.

South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal and Durban is in the grip of a severe drought and Mr Bongani Hlophe, Community Liaison and Education in the Water and Sanitation highlighted the measures that both eThekwini and Umgeni Water would have to take if all communities were not vigilant about saving water. To round off the BR&E Launch, Miss Kathleen Hall, Legal Advisor of the eThekwini Municipality introduced the new Bylaws especially those relating to the BR&E Programme namely the Nuisance Bylaws in order to create safe and friendly public places and community environments.

Different BR&E approaches will be taken within New Germany. One of these is asking business about their concerns, ideas and opportunities. Through the eThekwini Municipality’s Durban Investment Promotion, this locally driven and implemented programme has been initiated by local partnership with the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and supported by Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal.

The BR&E programme is managed by Task Team of local leaders including eThekwini Municipality’s BR&E Project Manager, Sibusiso Makhathini, Samala Morgan, DCCI Western Area Liaison Officer and Perusha Govender, Business Retention Officer, TIKZN. The day to day running of the programme will be led by BR&E Local Co-ordinator, Monique Labat in conjunction with associate Dumisani Ndlela. A survey of the businesses within New Germany will be conducted. Business will be asked about the pros and cons of doing business locally, obstacles to growth and ideas for growth. Action Teams on each of these will then be launched.

All participants will receive the results of the survey at the Feedback Session in August and priorities will be set so that local teams may implement subsequent actions. Click here to download the BR&E Survey Form.

For more information please contact BR&E Local Co-ordinator Monique Labat on Email: Monique@moniquelabat.com or Mobile: 082 924 6349.

 

Seen at the Launch of the Business Retention and Expansion programme in New Germany, Russell Curtis, HOD of Durban Investment Promotion, Cllr Logie Naidoo, Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality and Zeph Ndlovu, President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Seen at the Launch of the Business Retention and Expansion programme in New Germany,
Russell Curtis, HOD of Durban Investment Promotion, Cllr Logie Naidoo, Speaker of the eThekwini Municipality and Zeph Ndlovu, President of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

 

Russell Curtis, HOD Durban Investment Promotion, eThekwini Municipality, Sihle Ngcamu, EM, Investment Promotion, TIKZN, Bongani Hlophe, Community Liaison & Education, Water & Sanitation Unit, eThekwini Municipality, Front row left to right: Monique Labat, BR&E Local Co-ordinator, Zeph Ndlovu, President, DCCI, Sibusiso Makhathini, Project Manager BR&E, eThekwini Municipality, Kathleen Hall, Legal Advisor, eThekwini Municipality and Queen Mkhize, BR&E Officer, TIKZN
Russell Curtis, HOD Durban Investment Promotion, eThekwini Municipality, Sihle Ngcamu, EM, Investment Promotion, TIKZN, Bongani Hlophe, Community Liaison & Education, Water & Sanitation Unit, eThekwini Municipality,
Front row left to right: Monique Labat, BR&E Local Co-ordinator, Zeph Ndlovu, President, DCCI, Sibusiso Makhathini, Project Manager BR&E, eThekwini Municipality, Kathleen Hall, Legal Advisor, eThekwini Municipality and Queen Mkhize, BR&E Officer, TIKZN