“It was late February 2020, just before South Africa’s first nationwide lockdown, when we received an invaluable franchise enquiry to open a 3@1 Business Centre in Mauritius.
By mid-March 2020 all had agreed on the way forward. We had previously opened 3@1 Business Centres successfully in Namibia, Zambia, and Uganda, so in our minds opening in Mauritius would be straightforward. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown kicked in and both South Africa and Mauritius shut down. The months flew by and everything was on hold.
However Ashleigh Erasmus, our tenacious prospective franchisee, would not give up. She was determined to open her 3@1 Business Centre franchise on the island come what may. Mauritius is a small island, so choice locations were difficult to find during the pandemic. After badgering local centre managers, a prime site was secured at Cascavelle Shopping Centre, on the West side of the island, with availability in November. The question was how we were going to train and build the store when our team had to spend 14 days in quarantine.
Banking on some sort of return to normality in December, the idea was to manufacture the complete shop in kit form in South Africa, pack the components into a container and then ship it all to Mauritius. Our team would then fly out, fit and install the store and complete Ashleigh’s training on-site. Well, this didn’t go quite to plan as both countries closed their borders with no flights in or out.
At the end of November, the shop contents were ready and destined to leave Gauteng. On the day that the container was due to be loaded on a ship in Durban, we were informed that the ship had to undergo emergency repairs of at least three weeks, meaning that the container would now arrive in mid-January 2021. Unbeknownst to us, the container was loaded onto another ship and arrived in Port Louis on the 17th of December – earlier than expected.
We were astounded since business everywhere was closing for the ‘season’. But determined as ever, our franchisee managed to find temporary storage space to off-load the container until the New Year.
As we were now under extreme pressure to meet the lease commencement date of 15th February, there was no choice but to inch forward, make alternate plans and make them fast.
Via Zoom and WhatsApp video calls, the 3@1 Project Manager devised a way in which local artisans could make sense of the pile of cut boards that would form the counters, front desk, and other shop-fitting and signage components to be assembled. Although the build-up process normally takes four days, the team managed to pull it off remotely in three weeks.
Ready for the next set-up and instalment phase, the 3@1 Operations manager spent many hours training Ashleigh remotely, meticulously going through the 3@1 Operations Manual, setting up the LAN and PC’s and ensuring that everyone was competent to operate the equipment and serve their customers.
After a year of unforeseen events, much incentivising and fantastic support from everyone, we are proud to announce that the 3@1 Business Centre franchise opened its’ doors at Cascavelle Shopping Centre in Mauritius in early March 2021.”