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Speech by Mr. Manasa Vaniqi Permanent Secretary for Sugar
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15 August 2012

Speech by Mr. Manasa Vaniqi Permanent Secretary for Sugar FDB Board Member Chief Guest at the lanuch of the 2012 FDB Small Business Awards

Building Fiji through Enterprise
is the theme for this year’ssmall business awards. The theme was chosen to reflect the efforts of Government in spurring locals to take on the challenge and become entrepreneurs through investment. And like many great things, we all have to start somewhere and small businesses form the building blocks from which many big businesses today found their humble beginnings.  

Over the last 43 years, the Fiji Development Bank has worked tirelessly to inspire locals to aspire for a better life by engaging in the development of micro, small and medium enterprises - commonly referred to as SSMEs.
 
Over the years, we have seen a number of locally owned business grow through the assistance of FDB – companies like Fiji Television Ltd, the Unit Trust of Fiji and the then Suva Stock Exchange which is now the South Pacific Stock Exchange. The
 bank has also given a start to or helped with the expansion of a number of family owned businesses that are now household names - Vinod Patel, Joes Farm, Punjas, Rups, Star Printery, Dee Cees buses and Foods Pacific are but a few. 
 
Since 2004, the Fiji Development Bank has held the Small Business Awards to reward small businesses that show potential for growth.
 
Awards such as this help promote small enterprise development because it takes the stigma of insignificance away from such enterprises. People often frown and look down on the food vendor who door to door or the grass cutter who walks from house to house looking for an opportunity to earn some money. Without such enterprising people, unemployment would be much higher and affordable goods and services would be negligible.
 
Through such Awards, we give these hardworking, mostly self-employed people due recognition because they have taken the much harder option of working for themselves rather than someone else.
 
These small businesses also support a supply chain for processors and manufacturers. Without the farmer in the field, there would be no dalo or cassava to peel for packaging and export. Without the village craftsman, there would be no handicraft to sell at the curio markets and handicraft centres by the middleman or exported at extraordinary prices to collectors abroad.

Small business with the right support and adequate financing can also move on from just producing raw materials or basic goods to value-adding so that their product fetches a higher price. Similarly, with service based small business, a small cash injection can go a long way in upskilling ad resourcing the business so that it can demand a better return.
 
The Small Business Awards commenced in August 2004 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 the Fiji economy.
 
 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. The competition is a huge opportunity for deserving small businesses participating to take centre stage when the awards are presented in November. The recognition will not only help the business gain customers but the cash prize received can also be invested to improve resources, purchase materials and facilitate other necessary developments for the business.
 
There are six categories under which small business can enter and I would like to at this juncture, acknowledge the support of our sponsors for each of the six categories. Goodman Fielder, namely their brand Crest Chicken for sponsoring the Agriculture Category, The Fiji Times for Tourism, Sun Insurance for Wholesale/Retail, New India Assurance for Manufacturing and The Reserve Bank of Fiji for Professional Services. In addition to these five categories, entries are also considered for the
Best Business Practice and the Special Award. These twoawards were introduced last year to enhance the awards.
 
The Best Business Practice award is given to that business that clearly shows that it is a properly managed enterprise – that is, it has a business plan, proper employment records for staff, does monthly P&Ls etc.
 
The Special Award was created to give recognition to those small businesses that show the following qualities:
 
1.      Eco-friendly – has sound environmental practices particularly waste management and recycling.
 
2.    Unique – in that the business operator breaks gender and racial stereotypes such as a male operating a day care centre for children or a female operating a general contractor business.
 
3.    Innovative – takes risks (relative to location) and shows signs of success such as an internet café in a rural settlement.
 
I would encourage every entrepreneur who fits the criteria, to put in an entry.
 
With those few words ladies and gentlemen, I launch the FDB Small Business Awards for 2012.
 
Vinaka vakalevu.
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