Alumnus scoops the Entrepreneur Award 2021 at the Study UK Alumni Awards in Mauritius
The Alumni Awards recognise the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions have had in their chosen field and how their studies in the UK have contributed to their success.
On Thursday 8 April, Computing alumnus Melwyn Madelon was presented with the Entrepreneurial Award in recognition of his innovative services to governments, funding agencies, NGOs and the private sector. Since graduating from Portsmouth in 2006, Melwyn has been making huge strides in the business world in his home country of Mauritius and we wanted to find out more about his journey:
In 2002, I had completed my Higher School Education and was travelling to the UK for the first time. My sister had informed me that commonwealth scouts had been invited for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Parade at Windsor Castle. This event was very special to me since Mauritius, my home country, had become a republic and I was the last scout to have received the Queen’s Scout Award.
Upon arrival, I spent some time with scouts from Harpenden in Hertfordshire, before staying at my aunt’s place in London. My family there talked about the experience of studying a UK degree.
A month later I was back on my island and started researching UK degrees I could do from Mauritius. My first stop was the British Council who gave me the list of UK institutions present here on the island. At the time, online learning was still in its infancy but the idea of having chat sessions and assignments being reviewed by an academic was compelling. Furthermore, there was a module of e-commerce that interested me a lot.
When I was doing my lectures, it was hard to get accustomed to not seeing my lecturer in front of me but the lecturer was doing everything they could to support me. I was also doing some group work with my other friends here in Mauritius who were studying the same course.
As I expected, the e-commerce module was the most memorable for me. I can recall a written assignment where I had to identify a product that would have the best potential in the coming years. We had to compare different products and describe why a product would be a future market leader. I decided to pick mobile phones and started my research. Working on this project not only helped me to learn how technology evolves but where I also developed my critical thinking and to see things beyond the service - a key skill I continue to use in my work.
During my degree, I was amazed how all the technologies in the world gradually became part of our daily life now. This is what I found most challenging in Entrepreneurship; making innovation and technology available to solve daily life problems.
My career so far
I’m the Director of Enabling Environments Ltd, an international development consultancy, and also Director of Aeraccess Indian Ocean Ltd, a company that provides solutions for land mapping, infrastructure inspection and security, with use of drones and Artificial Intelligence for image processing.
One of my major projects was the development of a software for risk assessment of offshore companies that’s now used by management companies in Mauritius to detect money laundering
In May 2019, I was standing at The Masonic, one of the biggest theatres in San Francisco, and presented the company in front of thousands of businessmen, investors and tech people. Although I did not win the competition, I was congratulated by Marcello Claure, the CEO of Softbank International, a company who has an investment fund of $100 billion per year, for being “one of the most promising startups on this planet”. This was the most memorable moment of this whole competition for me.
My other accolades include:
- Best Startup in Mauritius
- Best Startup in Africa
- Finalist at the Startup World Cup of Fenox Venture Capitalist at Silicon Valley, USA
- Finalists for The Outstanding Young Person in Mauritius by Junior Chambers International: a recent nomination where I’m waiting to find out the outcome!
Currently I am still seeking ways to improve our value proposition to our customers and when I was looking for experts in the drones industry, I came to know Tim Mammatt. Apart from being one of the best in his field in the UK, Tim happens to be a fellow alumnus from the University of Portsmouth! This was a clear sign for me that the University is keeping their course aligned with the market trends and on the edge of innovation.
In February this year, I received a phone call from Hafiza Jepaul, the Project Manager at British Council Mauritius and was pleased to hear that I had been selected as a finalist for the UK Alumni Awards..
I attended the National UK Alumni Ceremony (virtually) in the presence of the British High Commissioner and members from the British Council. I was agreeably surprised to see that Chloe from the Alumni team and Claire from the Global office made it to the ceremony to support me!
When we reached the announcement for the Entrepreneurship Award, I was overwhelmed to hear that I was chosen as Best Entrepreneur. I had a feeling of gratitude for everyone that helped me; my family, friends and colleagues, the University of Portsmouth, and my business partners. I was also surprised when a special message from the Vice-Chancellor Graham Galbraith was played to me! He thanked me in person and mentioned all my achievements. He also invited me to come to Portsmouth and celebrate this with the team over there, and I’ll definitely come over at some point.
My journey continues, and thanks to the Alumni Awards I have been able to reconnect with the University and am looking forward to more collaborations in the future.