Mauritius, located off the eastern coast of Africa approximately 350 miles west of Madagascar, is one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, with the second highest GDP per capita among African nations. Their textile industry has historically been one of their main industries, however they have been facing shortages of skilled and interested laborers in this field in recent years. The Idea Foundry team will work with the EDBM to build a plan to implement new technologies and processes “to foster a new ecosystem to adapt to the modern requirements of the international market,” as stated by Mauritius’ Prime Minister in his 2019-2020 Budget Speech on June 10th 2019. The plan will include, where applicable, the adoption of innovation stemming from Pittsburgh.
In mid-August, Idea Foundry’s Entrepreneurial Program Manager and Strategy Consultant on this project, Jay Murray, traveled to the island of Mauritius for a week-long trip to gain more insight into the current methods used in their textile industry and meet with stakeholders there. During the trip, he had the opportunity to meet with and tour the facilities of fifteen manufacturers ranging from small 50-person facilities to 5,000-person vertically-integrated, large-scale manufacturers. "I had an opportunity to speak with the entrepreneurs and operators at the helm of each company and get their input on what keeps them up at night, the state of the textile economy as they see it, and where they think their industry is going in the next five years." remarks Jay about his trip. He worked closely with representatives from the EDBM, including their CEO, to begin elaborating on the investigation that will be conducted to advise on the project.
The initial spark for this program came from a visit from the Chairman of the EDBM’s Board, Mr. Charles Cartier, to Idea Foundry’s offices in February 2019 through the U.S. State Department’s International Visitors Leadership Program focused on global economic collaboration. After this meeting both Mr. Cartier and Idea Foundry’s CEO Mike Matesic expressed interest in continuing to build collaboration on key areas which meet the priorities of the Mauritian government and are in line with the focus areas of Idea Foundry and Pittsburgh. As the year-long project takes off, the Idea Foundry team will be investigating, both here and in Mauritius, innovative solutions to modernize the textile industry and further exploring opportunities to collaborate on building a robust innovative ecosystem in Mauritius and building connections to the ecosystem in Pittsburgh.