Mayank Agarwal and Rahul Sharma, both of Indian origin, are Director and General Manager of their new start-up, Unity Logistics Ltd., a cold chain warehouse. It started its operations in October 2019. Discover how their spirit of innovation transformed into a success story in which AfrAsia Bank has played a significant role.
Why did you opt for these specific sector and product?
The choice was deliberate. Owning an important part of the capital, we were looking for a technology intensive product. Our market study led us to identify a gap in the Mauritian market for technologically highly advanced cold warehouses.
Is there any particular reason for choosing Mauritius for your business?
The first and foremost factor has been the ease of doing business here in terms of regulation and the overall process of work - the government, banks and the private sector. It is straightforward and less complicated to do business here than in Madagascar, where we have worked, and even in India. We also wanted to position ourselves as serving the Indian Ocean and the African markets. As Mauritius bridges Asia to Africa, it was a definite and logical choice.
So today your dream has turned into reality. Tell us more about it.
We leased the land and built the warehouse from scratch. Unity Logistics Ltd. is nested strategically in Jin Fei Smart City, not far away from the buzzing Port-Louis harbour. 12 metres tall, it is equipped with the latest refrigeration technology from US based Co. Emerson. We managed to bring this technology to Mauritius despite it being available only in Europe & the US market.
With a capacity of 2500 squares per metre, the warehouse can accommodate 4 700 palettes and 3800 tons of material at one time. The warehouse has been rented to Logidis Ltd., provider of top-quality warehousing, leader in the logistics sector and a company of the IBL Group. The Office employs 7 persons in all. We are now planning to embark on our second phase which is another cold warehouse, right beside the first one. We have approached AfrAsia Bank for the 70 % of the financing.
How did AfrAsia Bank become your Banker for this project?
Knowing that AfrAsia was very selective in financing start-ups and SMEs, we hesitated to come here at first. But we decided to give it a try. With an appetite for risk in this line of activity, the Bank considered our proposal. As we were foreigners, and were launching a start-up, additional and in-depth information were needed. All procedures took 4 to 5 months. After evaluating the feasibility project, and ensuring that all conditions were satisfactorily met, AfrAsia gave its green light for the financing of the venture. The Bank believed in us when nobody believed in us and in our project. While we brought in 70 % of the equity, AfrAsia Bank provided 30% of the debt financing. We signed the contract in December 2017 and the first brick was laid in March 2018.
How far has our Bank’s overall service proved to be according to your expectations?
AfrAsia Bank has proved to be committed to our comfort. We are treated not as customers but as partners. The Bank is a rapid problem-solver and very responsive. Here banking is made easy. The rapport is close in the real sense of the word. Our Relationship Manager is one call or one e-mail away and is accessible whenever we need her. She does not hesitate to come to us if we cannot come to the Bank for any formality. She pays particular attention to our needs and has never failed to come up with a solution all the time. The Client Services Desk and the Credit Team as well have been helpful in making things move as quickly as possible during the evaluation and approval stages. So the Bank has really gone beyond our expectations in this sense too.
What would you like to see in terms of improvement in our offers?
As we like to withdraw cash, we would like to see ATMs at the main Bank or the Branch at Port-Louis. This will definitely be an attractive point that would smoothen the experience for us.
If you were to share some advice with our readers who look forward to embarking on their start-up journey, what would those be?
Have a clear vision, do your research properly and don’t be scared of failures.