Seychelles’ youngest minister — age 31 — learned entrepreneurship from family business


Seychelles’ youngest minister — age 31 — learned entrepreneurship from family business

Devika Vidot, 31, is the youngest minister President Wavel Ramkalawan’s new 13-member Cabinet. Vidot heads the Ministry of Investment, Entrepreneurship & Industry.
The new minister has a background in accounting, finance, and financial services domain, as well as a little in business and entrepreneurship.
SNA learned more about her through an interview Vidot gave to representatives of different media houses.
Media: Tell us about your childhood and how you grew up.
DV: I was born in Takamaka, where I lived until I was 12 years then moved to Baie Lazare with my mother. I was always a quiet and obedient child loved interacting with people. My parents encouraged me to work while I was attending school. There was always something extra to do after work as my parent were always involved in a business, so I always had to help them. I grew up with this attitude and hence today, I can say that I have an extensive background in business.
My parents had a retail shop and my mother has a self-catering business. I have assisted them in all aspects from operations, bookkeeping, filing of returns, and liaising with the concerned authority among others. When they were abroad I had to manage the business. I have been actively helping since I was 12 years old.
Media: Tell us a little about the period after you followed your studies at the School of A-Levels.
DV: After my A-levels, I taught at the Anse Royale Secondary school up until my studies started at university. I took the Manchester twinning programme and studied the first year in Seychelles and then two at the University of Manchester. After my return, I worked at the financial services authority which was then the Seychelles International Business Authority as the Financial Services Industry as the director.
Immediately after, I started my ACCA on a part-time basis. This meant that I ordered my books online, studied after work and during the weekend, and then sat for my exams. All this was self-funded. I then took a short break and later did my masters. When you are a member of ACCA, you need to have continuous professional development and there are courses and training that you need to do on a yearly basis so as to maintain the accreditation with the association, otherwise, you are disqualified.
Media: As a minister, there is a lot of pressure and work involved. How will you balance married life and a baby on the way with your work as a minister?
DV: I know that it will not be easy but I can say that since I got the position, it feels that I have more joy to going home to see my son. I am able to concentrate 100 percent on the work that needs to be done during working hours. I look forward to being with my family after work. I make sure that I have a cut-off time and I love to wake up early, which means that my day starts earlier.
My 16-month-old son is still sleeping at that time so I have time for myself. I think that with another baby, at the start it will be a bit more difficult but I have the full support of my husband and that of my family. I am a bit flexible and I think that with the new baby, I will be doing the same. 
I got married on September 1, 2018, which was the date on which we also celebrated our 10th anniversary together. We were lucky that the date fell on a Saturday. We are very much in love up to now.

The new minister on one of her familiarising visits which she says it is important in order to meet with the people who work within her ministry. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY 

Media: Did you ever think that at the age of 31, you would become a minister?
DV: No. Frankly, I never thought about this as something I would do. However, having seen certain things of which I had my own opinion but was unable to make the difference, I found the opportunity as one where I will be able to make contributions and make a difference.
This is what pushed me to say that even if the timing is not perfect with the baby on the way if I do not take this opportunity now, I might regret it later on. This is what pushed me and I am excited. I have the enthusiasm and aspiration to do a lot.  When I found out that I was nominated, I was shocked. I felt overwhelmed but once everything sunk in, I got in the spirit to work.
Media: Can you elaborate on what you have said about seeing a lot happening?
DV: When we look at our business industry, we see that there are a lot of challenges that businessmen and entrepreneurs face. The ease of doing business in Seychelles at the moment is not easy. People are confused as to where to go and where to start. There isn’t a harmonisation between agencies and departments in all sectors. At the ministries level, we need to be more dedicated to working together. I know that my colleagues have the same way of thinking where the cabinet of ministers envision working together to ensure that the government operates as one and not in isolation.
Media: Your ministry was a department before, how are you and your team going to put in place this ministry?
DV: This the main reason why I have conducted these visits. It was important to meet with the people who work within this ministry as it is important to know them and their functions. They should feel that they can come to see me when there is a necessity to do so.
Secondly, I wanted to know the functions of each agency. When you physically go to these places and talk to the workers there, you are in a position to better understand their position and their way of work. Following this, I will sit down with my team and look at each of these functions to see how we can streamline them making them more efficient. This will facilitate the life of businessmen or those looking to start a business. In general, we want to facilitate the ease of doing business.
Media: How do you envision to encourage people to start their own business and to start businesses?
DV: We will grab the opportunity to achieve this, this week. At the start of next week, our ministry will be taking part in the Global Entrepreneurship Week, which Seychelles has been selected to host. People will get to see a series of activities taking place.
I feel very lucky to have come into the ministry at this point and hence can contribute together with the team. The team has done an excellent job setting up an activity plan that is quite packed. It is through this that we will try and grab opportunities with young entrepreneurs or existing businesses so that they can grow further and diversify, or come up with new ideas and ways of doing things. We will then be able to gauge the number of ideas that we have, the aspiration of the youth, and the amount of drive that existing companies have.

Vidor said that after her visits she will sit down with her team and look how to make them more efficient. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY

Media: We have seen on social media that there will be a TV series – ‘Dan Kof’. Can you tell more about this project?   
DV: The team, in collaboration with other partners, has worked hard so as to bring forth this idea. It will be something in the likes of the series ‘Shark Tank’. This will be a good opportunity to see our people developing their ideas. We will also be able to see the talents that Seychelles has.
Media: As a young woman, you see that there are a lot of men in charge of enterprises in Seychelles. Will you be backing women as a young minister?
DV: Of course, definitely. I think that our women have a lot of potentials. We can rule the world if we are left to do so. I think that this is because we have this maternal instinct as well that as mothers, we always have a sense of responsibility which means that even if we are running a business, we have this added element that we bring with us. We have more determination as we know that there is someone depending on you. Men are also determined. The same attitude is important when running a business. Women have a lot to offer, especially here in Seychelles.
Media: How accessible will you be to the public now that you are a minister?
DV: I will be available to see the public on Thursday mornings so people can contact my office for an appointment if there is anything to be discussed. We are here to serve the public as public servants. I would like to ask the public for their cooperation, to respect the time that is given to them for the meeting. Aside from the meeting, we will need to work on their requests.
Media: What area within your ministry do you feel needs to be tackled in a more pressing manner?
DV: At the moment, a cabinet decision has been taken in regards to the industrial estate land. This is something pertinent on our agenda, however, something that is as equally important is the streamlining of our agencies and procedures to ensure that we are working towards the same goal.
Media: What would you like to say to end the interview?
DV: I would be happy to see if everyone could play an active role in our Global Entrepreneurship Week which will take place between November 16 and November 22. This is an exceptional opportunity that Seychelles has received.
During this pandemic, we have seen that there are many business ideas that have arisen. Despite the negative effects that COVID is having, there is a lot of positivity that has come out of it. We have seen that workplaces such as PUC and Cable and Wireless are accepting new forms of payments that have facilitated the lives of a lot of us.
I would like to call on people who have thought about creating a business to bring forth their ideas so that they can get started. We need to find a way to help with the progression of the country. We are counting on your support. 

Source: Seychelles News Agency