About 40% of the workforce of Mauritius is employed in the manufacturing sector. Mauritius has many textile factories, where clothing is made for markets in the United Kingdom, France, the United States and Germany. Thousands of people, mostly women, are employed to sew or finish garments, or to operate knitting machines. Foreign investors were given tax exemptions to set up these establishments. Mauritius has become one of the world's leading knitwear manufacturers. Other manufactured goods include electronics, plastic and leather goods, and synthetic gemstones.
   Did you know?
Mauritius was one of the earliest centres in the southern hemisphere to have a printing press. Today there are 173 printing centres on the island. Records of printed material date back to 1768.
The agricultural sector employs about 15% of the workforce. Sugar cane production and processing, once the main industry, uses about 80% of the arable land. The sugar cane plantations employ agricultural workers, engineering technicians and marketing specialists. Potatoes, tomatoes, coconuts and bananas are also grown. However, Mauritius has to import rice, wheat and other grains. There is also a small fishing industry, which has benefited from foreign investment.

The service sector includes the tourist industry and offshore banking facilities. Tourism is growing on Mauritius, and a number of resorts and hotels have been built, mostly in the coastal areas. Many tourists come to Mauritius to enjoy deep-sea fishing and water sports. Tourism has also stimulated the production of crafts on the island. For example, several successful factories now build model ships to sell to tourists. Detailed models of ships such as the Bounty, the Victory and the Cutty Sark may take up to 400 hours to make.

Specific cultural groups are often associated with particular types of work. People from the western Indian state of Gujarat have traditionally dominated the textile and rice businesses. Many Chinese people work in the financial sector or in import-export businesses. Most of the owners of sugar cane plantations are French. Creoles work in a variety of occupations, including the trades and manual labour.

In 1913, Mauritius became one of the first developing countries to found business cooperatives. In the agriculture sector, there are cooperatives of sugar cane planters, tea growers and cattle owners, while in the non-agricultural sector, there are cooperatives for transport and housing. Cooperatives offer their members assistance with loans through credit unions.

   Did you know?
Bagasse is a byproduct of sugar cane that is used to produce energy. The fibrous residue of crushed sugar cane can be burned as fuel. The sugar estates use this energy for their own consumption and sell the surplus to the electricity board.