Australian High Commission
Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Comoros, Reunion Island (consular)

Launch of Business Without Borders Digital Mentoring Platform - Remarks by High Commissioner


Hon Nandcoomar Bodha, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration & International Trade

Hon Soomilduth Bholah, Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives

Hon Darsanand Balgobin, Minister of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation

Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Haymandoyal Dillum

Colleagues of the Diplomatic, Consular Corps, Regional and International Organisations

Former Australian High Commissioners (Susan Coles and Jenny Dee)

Mr Alain Law Min, Chief Executive, Mauritius Commercial Bank


President and Members of the Association Mauricienne des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprise

FCEM President (Mrs Christine Ogly) and Regional Commissioners (Aline Wong & Diane Tomson)

Women Chiefs of Enterprises International from Australia

Business Leaders and Representatives of the public and private sectors

Regional program partners from Rodrigues, Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests

All protocols observed


A very good morning to all of you.


  • It is indeed a pleasure for me to be here today at the launch of this women’s economic empowerment project – “Business without Borders” -  funded by the Australian Government.
  • And we are launching it in a context we never could have foreseen – COVID-19
  • I do want to start by commending the extraordinary work of the Association Mauricienne des Femmes Chefs d’Entreprise and their Australian counterparts, Women Chiefs of Enterprises International;
    • For working so tirelessly to realise their dream of mentoring women business leaders across the Indian Ocean region
    • And for coming up with a digital platform so well suited to this diverse region, and to these COVID times
    • Could I recognise too my predecessors, Ms Jenny Dee and Ms Susan Coles, joining us by video link from Australia, who have driven this partnership with AMFCE since 2015
    • I would also like to pay tribute, as others have, to Margaret Pan Sin – I have heard so much about her extraordinary spirit and energy. I know she was a mentor and inspiration to many here today - her loss will be so deeply felt
  • Allow me to make some remarks about why the Australian Government is working with AMFCE on this project, and why we think it’s so important
  • There are three very simple principles at the heart of our support
    • The first principle is that getting women into business is everybody’s business.  The World Bank estimated in 2018 that the world is missing out on $160 trillion worth of wealth because of differences in life time earnings between women and men.  So we know that when women flourish, communities, societies, economies also flourish
    • the second principle guiding our support is that of sharing the journey.  All of our countries, Australia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar are working to improve gender equality – none of us have all the answers.  But by pooling our resources and knowledge, we will come up with innovative solutions
      • Business Beyond Borders is one of those solutions


  • The third principle is of course that working towards gender equality is fundamentally the right thing to do
  • The principle of gender equality is at the very core of Australia’s foreign, aid, and trade policy
    • Australia’s Foreign Minister is also the Minister for Women
    • We have proposed a candidate, Natasha Stott Despoja, to sit on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women 2021-24;

§  As Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls, she visited Mauritius in 2014 and was part of the discussions that led to this very project

  • And the Australian High Commission here in Mauritius has been privileged over the years to work on gender equality with so many dedicated partners across private sector and government, including most recently a partnership with UNDP and the Honourable Minister for Gender Equality to set up a Gender Based Violence Observatory here in Mauritius

·         I’d like to highlight to the audience a particularly innovative and empowering element to the Business Without Borders project, and that’s its focus on the role of women AND men in advancing gender equality, by signing up both male and female mentors


·         This approach is very similar to an Australian program – Male Champions of Change – which brings together senior male CEOs to advocate for women’s greater representation in the business world


·         In this regard, I salute the vision of Mauritius Commercial Bank, and its CEO Alain Law-Min in partnering with us on this project, and look forward to working with you to champion women in business


  • In closing, could I acknowledge, in the presence of the Honourable Foreign Minister, that this launch occurs during the  50th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and Mauritius


  • In the last fifty years, our bilateral relations has grown from strength to strength  with growing education and trade links, and collaboration in the Indian Ocean Rim Association, as well as in new fields including in the blue economy and women’s economic empowerment. 
  • We’ll be marking this anniversary again on Friday, with the joint launch of a commemorative stamp by Australian and Mauritius Posts
  • In marking this anniversary today though,

-          I can think of no better symbol of our relationship than this launch, which brings together the dynamism, energy and talent of entrepreneurs from across the region –  we are truly   “Partners in the Indian Ocean”


·       To all the participants in Business Without Borders: Félicitations, bon

     courage, et bonne chance!


24 September 2020