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Agriculture PS launches 2010 FDB Small Business Awards
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27 September 2010

Mr. Mason Smith
Permanent Secretary for Agriculture

OFFICIAL LAUNCHING OF THE 2010 FDB SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS

FDB Head Office
Friday 20 August 2010
Suva 10:30am

The CEO of the Fiji Development Bank
Invited guests
Members of the FDB Family
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ni sa bula vinaka saka, Namaste and good morning to you all.

First of all let me express my sincere appreciation to FDB for extending to me the honor and privilege to be your guest of honor today. I am indeed delighted to be here this morning to officially launch the 2010 Small Business Awards.

Let me also thank FDB for hosting these awards and for the preparation and planning that has gone into making these awards a reality

Ladies and gentlemen, let me also thank you for your presence here today. Your presence is indicative of the importance you place on the small business awards

These small business awards, which were first launched in 2004, are designed to promote micro and small 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 Fiji’s economy. Over the years, the award categories have changed, the catchphrases or themes for the awards have changed; from Bisinisi Lailai, Paisa Achaa to Start Small, Think Big —to this year’s theme of Improving Lives and Building Smiles. What has not changed though is the fundamental aim of the small business awards and that is to promote small businesses as the cornerstone of new economic growth

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The year’s theme of Improving Lives and Building Smiles is indeed appropriate and in line with Government’s policy of reducing poverty to a negligible level by 2014. I am told that the theme was chosen with the view to creating awareness around the ability and potential of small businesses to alleviate poverty.

If we are to make this happen, (that is to alleviate poverty) then it is imperative, that we all work together—the FDB, financial institutions, the department of agriculture, fisheries & forestry, other Government Ministries and the private sector—we must synergize our efforts and ensure that our comparative advantages are pooled so that those that need our services the most are provided with all the necessary advice, training and assistance in order to ensure the success of their businesses thereby improving their lives and bringing a smile to their faces.

This year’s competition, which closes at 3pm on Friday 24 September 2010, is open to 100% locally owned businesses that have a gross annual sale of up to $100,000 and will be competed for in the following major categories: agriculture, wholesale/retail, manufacturing, professional services, an open category, tourism and an overall winner.

Category winners I am told will get $1,500 cash prize and the runner up $300 in cash. The overall winner will take home an additional $3,000 in cash and I am sure, the bragging rights as the FDB Small Business Awards winner for 2010.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In promoting these awards, FDB serves as a medium in encouraging new entrepreneurs and fostering new business development in keys sectors of the economy. No doubt, a developing economy like Fiji need entrepreneurs to drive the cogs that service the wheels of employment creation and revenue generation.

Like agriculture, all businesses should be demand driven—hence all business should start out with an idea drawn from a need to provide goods or services to consumers.

Entrepreneurial programs to help channel creative ideas that people have for their business—a role that the National Centre for Small and Microenterprise Development (NCSMED) endeavors to harness—should be the order of the day.

We need to think outside the proverbial box, be innovative and create new business ideas rather than the cut throat canteen, taxi, or yaqona business that is all too common nowadays. We must encourage an enterprising culture.

Ladies and gentlemen,

If small businesses are to succeed; skills must be fine tuned, business, finance and management training provided and startup capital made available on easy terms and conditions to our entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs must also be made aware of pitfalls that can threaten the survival of their business including issues pertaining to dinau and cultural imperatives and obligations.

I am glad to note that legislative reforms are currently being reviewed and streamlined to nurture and grow small enterprises. The Development Subcommittee of Government recently endorsed a policy paper which will pave the way for the institutional strengthening of the microfinance sector in Fiji through a microfinance decree which will create a microfinance market and industry similar to the banking industry.

Furthermore, an enabling environment is also being created to encourage people to take ownership of their own destiny and do something for themselves rather than waiting for Government hand outs. Likewise the governance structure of NCSMED is being reviewed.

These are policy and legislative changes which are designed to stimulate the growth of small and micro enterprise businesses. Government cannot go at it alone and as I mentioned earlier, we must synergize our efforts and ensure that our comparative advantages are pooled so that those that need our services the most are provided with all the necessary advice, training and assistance to improve their lives and bring a smile to their faces.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

An award of this nature cannot be successful without the support and cooperation of the media and the private sector. In particular I would like to acknowledge the sponsorship of Crest, FINTEL, New India Assurance, Sun Insurance, Reserve Bank of Fiji and of course the Fiji Development Bank towards these awards. Come 24 September, you will no doubt have played a major role in Improving Lives and Building Smiles to a number of our entrepreneurs in Fiji.
I wish all competing entrepreneurs all the best and now take great pleasure in officially launching the 2010 Small Business Awards.
 

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyavad.


END
 

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