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CEO's address at the 2010 SBA Awards
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29 November 2010

24 November 2010

Chief Guest, members of the FDB Board and management, sponsors, your Excellencies, entrants to the awards, members of the media, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Small businesses need the encouragement and the support from all sectors of society. From those that regulate small businesses to those that provide financing.

At the Fiji Development Bank, we see small businesses as the cornerstone to building the foundations for bigger and better things to come. You have only to look at the business built by our chief guest and his family to see that yes, it is possible to grow from a small business into a large corporation. And he will share some of that experience with you in his key note address.

There has never been a more critical time than at present to see and value the importance of small business. When many lost their jobs in traditional job sources, they turned to self-employment as a means of supporting their families.

We have seen many small businesses start out this way and yet, fail to thrive and grow as one would expect. What stops them from doing so?

In my experience as a banker and financier of many small businesses that have gone on to grow and become successful, is the ability of these enterprises to carefully manage their finances. It may sound simplistic but that is the bottom line.

I have found that these businesses are also able to differentiate between their personal and business expenses. They do not use the income for their businesses for their personal use.

Maintaining a good cash flow is also important when it comes to managing your business especially during the down time and every business goes through this cycle of peak and low sales.

Looking for new opportunities and diversifying the business stream has also helped these businesses grow. The diversification comes with understanding the market – you cannot have a successful business if you don’t have anyone to buy from you – be it goods or services.

A common thread I found with most small businesses that start at the grassroots and by that I mean at home and in the villages and settlement is that they are identical if not the same. When someone starts a canteen, two others want to do the same – why create competition for yourself? Be enterprising, look for something different to do.

Every successful enterprise is built on a NEED. Remember that word, NEED. If there is a need and your business idea can fill that need, you are half way to running a successful business already.

In the 43 years that the Fiji Development Bank has been in existence, we have seen and heard them all. Our approach to helping our people overcome some of these common pitfalls is to support efforts to endow our young people with better financial literacy skills, which the Bank is currently doing through the Money Smart™ programme in all high schools Fiji-wide. We are in the process of renewing our support for this programme in 2011.

By teaching young people to differentiate between their needs and wants, to create a weekly budget and savings plan, we hope to create a generation of entrepreneurs and business people who are financially literate and able to better manage their personal and business finances if it should come to that.

Fiji needs entrepreneurs and each of us here this evening are stakeholders in turning that dream into reality.

With those few words, I’d like to invite Ramesh Sewak, the Manager Corporate to introduce our Chief Guest.

Vinaka.

 

 

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