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Chief Guest Speech - SBA Night
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22 January 2010


21 JANUARY 2010


Dr Nur Bano Ali

Aliz pacific, Chartered Accountants and Consultants

The CEO Fiji Development Bank, Ratu Deve Toganivalu, participants of the Small Business Awards, invited guests, sponsors, ladies and gentlemen it is indeed my pleasure to be here tonight to support this great initiative which the FDB started in 2004, some 7 years ago.

I personally take a keen interest in small business and am always willing to support programs which will encourage the growth and development of these businesses. I have also been a judge of these awards in its early years.

So my sincere well wishes to all of those who participated in these awards and thanks to FDB for continuing with the program and thereby recognising and drawing attention to this very important contributor to our socio?economic development.

A sector which I daresay is not well recognised because of the peripheral understanding of its impact and contribution to society and the economy.

How many times have you heard people speak about the importance of small business and the need to support it and at the same time how many times have you heard that small business is struggling to get ahead.

It is fair to say that whilst it is a well known and widely accepted fact that small business plays a vital role in any country and particularly a developing Country such as Fiji, there is not much support available to this sector to support its growth and development. Why is this?

If small business is so important why is there such a lack of targeted programmes to promote it.

This is simply because we do not have data to support its important function in the economy and are reliant on global statistics and information to promote this sector in FIJI.

It is the global phenomenon which started some 10?15 years ago now that has started the small business movement in Fiji.

Indeed I read with keen observation the rationale for the FDB Small Business Awards programme. It read as follows and I quote from the notes sent to me from FDB:

? The awards commenced in 2004 to promote Small MICRO Enterprise Development through the recognition of successful and innovative entrepreneurs who are making a livelihood and in doing so collectively make a strong contribution to the Fiji economy.

? The competition serves as a medium to market FDB to the people of Fiji and

? Also serves as part of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility Programme.

? The bank supports the global ideal that small businesses are the cornerstone of new economic growth and that it has a strong role to play in fostering new business development

? Finally the aim of the awards is to recognise SME’s and its contribution to the economy

The FDB clearly recognises like most other financing institutions in this Country that small business make a serious contribution.

Emphasis and focus on small business is a global phenomena and very well justified because the collective strength and power of small business is phenomenal .

For example a typical small business with a turnover of $30,000 per annum is

? Owner operated
? Employs at least 2 people
? Pays vat on its services and supplies of $2000

If we multiply this to 50 small businesses then the collective stats are as follows:
? Turnover of $1,500,000
? Employment of 100 people
? Vat payable of $100,000
? Supports 50 families

Then for 100 of them the turnover becomes $3,000,000

Employment levels go up to 200
Vat and contribution to taxes goes up to $200,000
And so forth

It is this collective information that has to be captured and articulated to realise the strong contribution of this sector.

It is this collective strength and its resultant impact of the small business that has seen the many larger corporate sponsors enlisted for these awards? Fintel, New India Assurance , Crest Chicken , Connect and the Fiji Sun.

Through these awards the FDB is encouraging and hence enabling the development of entrepreneurs who will grow to become the big business of Fiji.

However, it is also important to recognise that whilst all of them have the potential , it is not necessary for all of them to become nor will they become large corporates one day.

The focus should be on the small business and its ability to economically empower the individuals who are operating these businesses and the economic contribution to the economy as ancillary service providers to the large sectors of our economy through providing employment and services.

Small business therefore indeed has a huge contribution to make to the Fijian economy and has to be encouraged and supported through an ;

Organised and structured way; one that will ensure
? Information capture on the numbers of people involved
? And the families who depend on it
? And the values of trade and
? The pervasive economic impact of this sector

Once we are equipped with the correct information and properly comprehend its socio?economic impact then we can justify even greater deployment of resources to support the growth and development of this very important player in our economy.

At this point I will very quickly touch on the business environment of Fiji which if one observes one will quickly realise is made up of many more small businesses than the large ones.

This again further justifies the need to provide more supportive facilities to the small business sector.

In fact this sector is not serviced very well at the current time because it is left to the market forces and the larger institutions who cannot justify the support as it does not necessarily make economic sense to deploy resources to encourage this sector.

This has to change and I urge intervention at government level to provide the facilitative support mechanism to grow this sector particularly at this time of Fiji’s economic disposition, one that is in need of growth.

While we develop facilitative policy to encourage larger investment we can move to actively support the growth and generation of the small business sector as we have seen through the simple example today of the large collective impact that this sector has on the economy.

With this I once again applaud the FDB for its ongoing efforts to encourage and promote the small businesses and entrepreneurship skills in Fiji.

To the winning candidates my sincere congratulations and best wishes to each one of you for further success in your businesses .

Thank you.







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