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Locals Inc. - Jewel Bubble Divers
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12 October 2011

 

         


         

The hallmark of a couple who know each other well is the ability to finish each other’s sentences effortlessly and on cue. Qiolele Morisio Junior and his wife, Eunice are such a couple. Both in their early 30s, this dynamic duo run Jewel Bubble Divers located less than 5 minutes drive from the airport in Matei, Taveuni.

 
With over 10 years experience as a dive master, Qio as he is known by his friends has worked at some of Fiji’s most exclusive resorts where he’s taught diving to the likes of  Hollywood celebrities such as Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher and Nicole Kidman along with Fortune 500 honoree, Paul Allen of Microsoft.
 
“I started out in 1988 not too far from here where my father also had his diving business. Then from there I moved to….” Qio said as he searched his memory for names of his past employers.
 
“Then from there you worked at Matagi Island Resort, Dive Taveuni, Swiss Fiji Divers which used to be located here, then he moved to Malolo, Beachcomber, Musket (Cove),” Eunice pipes in continuing, “then from there you spent five years in Wakaya before deciding to start this business.”
 
Moving back home to the Garden Island in September 2005, Qio and Eunice set up shop about 500 metres from their current location where they rented a beach front spot from another local resident.  In the dive world, Taveuni is known for its spectacular dive spots – Rainbow Reef, The Great White Wall, Little White Wall, Rainbows End, Champion Rock and 3 Bommie to name a few.
“I started this business with a loan from FDB under the SCARF facility, which helped us get get on our feet,” Qio said.
 
The Seed Capital Revolving Fund Scheme (SCARF) was established by Government and implemented by the Bank in March 2002. The Scheme was part of the affirmative action programme for indigenous communities (Fijians and Rotumans) by the Government at the time.
 
The purpose of SCARF was designed to assist indigenous Fijians and Rotumans as resource owners for the majority of fisheries and forest-based resources. The objective of the Scheme was to bring more landowners into the business stream through the provision of favorable lending in these key sectors of Tourism, Fisheries and Forestry. All lending were to start ups as that initiated by the Morisios. The Morisios were one of only a handful of SCARF beneficiaries to make a successful go of the Scheme. SCARF applications are currently assessed on a case by case basis.
 
“Jewel Bubble Divers is named after our daughter Jewel and Bubble is because we cater for kids as well – kids from 8 to 10 year-olds (who) get a certificate and they are known as Bubble Makers,” Eunice clarifies on their choice of name for the business.
 
After five years of operating his own dive business, Qio looked at expansion and went into partnership with Eytan Levin, an American real-estate developer whom he met during his time in Wakaya. Relocating in February this year, Qio also took a further loan from FDB under the Commercial Loans for Fijians Scheme (CLFS) to purchase a vessel.
 
The CLFS helps iTaukei entrepreneurs get into business for themselves either through the provision of working capital or capital to purchase or establish a business as well as equity as for small businesses. This product is now assimilated under the wider Small Medium Enterprise (SME) loans available at FDB for businesses.
 
One satisfied customer with the username Johnsweetie from California posted his positive review of JBD on Trip Advisor an online forum where travellers post their comments on service experiences in different countries.
 
“I just returned from Taveuni Fiji. I burned 6 tanks on 3 boat dives to Rainbow Reef with Jewel Bubble Divers at their new location. The first dive was to the swim-thru caves and the famous White wall with Dive Master (DM) and owner Qio,” he wrote.
 
“The boat was custom made for diving, covered, fast and comfortable with a powerful 4 stroke outboard. The ride to the dive spot was about 35minutes. The 2 other crew were very competent, helpful and friendly.
 
“My life partner Kathleen (70) had not scuba dove (sic) in 10 years and was able to experience the fantastic purple wall with me. That day we had a different DM.
 
“I would highly recommend Jewel Bubble divers and Rainbow Reef Tanuini (Taveuni) Fiji diving to anyone. Snorkelling was almost as fantastic but equally as enjoyable. This was definitely the best dives of my life.”
 
The two acre property where JBD is located neighbours Taveuni Island Resort and is accessible to a stunning beach fringed by clear blue water. The clearing before the beach is set aside for a resort type accommodation where divers using their tour can stay during their dives, which average between three to four days.
 
“We’re looking at three bure style accommodations which can accommodate six to eight people,” Eunice said.
 
Despite the closure of nearby Maravu Plantation Resort where a lot of JBD’s clients came from, business remains brisk with dive tour bookings continuing to flow in from other resorts on the island.
 
“We started with a maximum of six divers at a time in the early days,” says Qio, “and now we can take more than 20 divers if we need to,” finishes Eunice.
 
The company employs four full time staff with extras recruited when needed. Once the accommodation facility is operational, between six to eight extra jobs is expected to be created.
 
As local business operators dependent on a valuable resource like the sea for their livelihood, the Morisios are passionate about the need to preserve the marine environment.
 
“Littering is a huge problem,” Eunice says “I just wish people would take more care when disposing of their rubbish because it is having an impact on the marine environment.”


 

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