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2012 FDB Small Business Awards
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22 November 2012

22 NOVEMBER, 2012.

Your Excellency, the President of Fiji, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, fellow members of the Board and FDB executive committee, sponsors and finalists, members of the media, invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Ni sa bula vinaka, Namaste and a very warm welcome to you all.
Your Excellency: May I on behalf of everyone present here this evening, say what a pleasure it is to have you as our chief guest this evening. I’m sure that our finalists present here today, would never have dreamed in a million years that they would have the pleasure of your company in such a personal setting - thank you for accepting our invitation and our heartiest congratulations also on your recent re-appointment to office.
Today marks another milestone in the extraordinary journey from where we started nine years ago. The Small Business Awards was conceived of an idea to give due recognition to small businesses doing extraordinary things and that has been its objective throughout. Tonight, I say to each finalist present here tonight, you are extraordinary in your endeavour and you should be proud. Congratulations!
Next year, we will include with the SBA, three new categories for microfinance. The inclusion of the microfinance categories as part of the SBA follows a decision in July by the Microfinance Working Group (MWG) of the National Financial Inclusion Taskforce (NFIT) to an FDB proposal to have the following categories included in the 2013 FDB Small Business Awards:
1. Best Micro Enterprise (Sole Trader/Individual)
2. Best Micro Enterprise (Group/Cooperative/Partnership)
3. Best Micro Finance Institution.
At this juncture I acknowledge the Reserve Bank of Fiji for their commitment to financial inclusion and their sponsorship support for these new categories in 2013. These awards now pave the way for those enterprises turning over less than $30,0001 per annum to enter the awards system and receive the recognition that they duly deserve.
Small businesses are classified as such based on their turnover which is between $30,000 and $100,000. Micro and small enterprises play such an incredible part in the informal economic system. Through its very existence, it provides a vehicle on which issues such as poverty, unemployment better health, education and livelihoods are addressed. The value that
these enterprises bring to the quality of life to their entrepreneurs, the families that rely on them and the communities in which they operate is manifold and the social impacts that result can be transformational.
Entrepreneurs in Fiji flourish like weeds in the least likely of places. Take squatter settlements for instance where just about every household operates some form of enterprise – from selling ice blocks and food to a service such as plumbing, house painting or mechanical. The inability of these enterprises to properly incorporate and grow is the absence of working capital which would otherwise be accessible within the formal financial system if they owned properly titled assets that could be used as collateral for borrowing. To quote de Soto (2000:6)2 “Because the rights to these possessions are not adequately documented, these assets cannot readily be turned into capital, cannot be traded outside of the narrow circles where people know and trust each other, cannot be used as collateral for a loan, and cannot be used as a share against an investment.” 
Developed countries are miles ahead of us because they learnt to put a great emphasis on titled ownership. We are where they were about 150 years ago. I am pleased the current reforms to land and the financial system will allow everyone to move toward economic and social development on an even footing. As a development bank our role in the community embraces the economic and the social. We provide finance and financial advisory services that will assist in the economic development of Fiji, in particular the development of agriculture, commerce and industry.
We understand the difficulties that most rural dwellers have in terms of adequate collateral and for some of our products we make allowances for innovative collateral. Ladies and gentlemen, with those few words, it is my honour and great pleasure to introduce our chief guest this evening. In fact he is a man that needs very little introduction! Ratu Epeli Nailatikau is a direct descendent of Ratu Seru Cakobau and is known by his chiefly title of Turaga Mai Naisogolaca. A soldier with 25 years of service with the Fiji Military Forces he
retired in 1987 as Commander with the rank of Brigadier-General.
In the wake of his military career, he spent the next 11 years in the diplomatic service as a diplomat and later permanent secretary before joining the interim cabinet as Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Fijian Affairs in 2000 following the political events
of that year. With the restoration of the parliament in 2001, Ratu Epeli served as the Speaker of House, a job that he did with a firm hand, a sense of humour and the patience of Job!
Following the events of 2006, he served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Relations and later as the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Provincial Development and Multi-Ethnic Affairs before assuming the role of vice-President of Fiji in April 2009. In November the same year, he succeeded Ratu Josefa Iloilo as President of Fiji. His Excellency’s term was extended for another three years this past week.
Ratu Epeli’s distinguished years of service in the military and in civilian life has earned him meritorious medals that include the Companion of the Order of Fiji (CF), The Royal Victorian Order (LVO), Order of the British Empire (OBE), The Meritorious Service
Decoration (MSD) and The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem (OStJ).
When he isn’t being the People’s President, Ratu Epeli spends his time working tirelessly as the UNAIDS Special Representative for the Pacific. An outspoken advocate for HIV and AIDS, he has done a lot to raise the profile of this disease so do not in any way be offended or surprised if he offers you a condom during the course of a conversation!
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I now invite His Excellency, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau to deliver his keynote address.

Best Business Practice award winner Mereula Vuidravuwalu with H.E Ratu Epeli & Mr. Lyon

Catergory Award Winners with chief guest H.E the President & FDB Board Chairman Mr. Lyon
Chief Guest H.E Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
Cliffor Morris of Goodman Fielder, Agriculture Award Winner Kamal Singh with H.E Rt Epeli & Mr. Lyon

Commendation Prize Winners

FDB Board Chairman Mr. Bob Lyon intorduces the chief guest
H.E with Board Chairman and Special Award winners Mr. & Mrs. Charles & SUe McCay
Lorraine Seeto of RBF, Professional & Business Service Catergory Miliana Vadei with H.E Rt Epeli & Mr. Lyon
L-R Abishak Narayan, Fiji Times, Winner Tourism Award Amran Yusuf with H.E & Mr. Lyon
LR Lolesh Sharma, Sun Insurance, Wholesale & Retail winner Joana Ugatea, H.E Ratu Epeli & Mr. Lyon
LR Venukumar of New India Assurance, Tulia Nacola Manufacturing Award winner with H.E Rt Epeli & Mr. Lyon
Special award winner Charles McCay with H.E Ratu Epeli & Mr. Lyon
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