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CEO speech - Launch of the 2013 FDB Small Business Awards
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14 August 2013

welcome & introduction

deve toganivalu - CEO, FDB

Launch of the 2013 FDB Small Business Awards in Suva

14 August, 2013.

 Chief guest Governor Barry Whiteside;

Our valued sponsors – the Reserve Bank of Fiji; Sun Insurance; Life Insurance Corporation of India; New India Insurance; the Fiji Times; and Crest Chicken.

Invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.

A very warm welcome to you all this morning.

The launch of the small business awards this year is an especially momentous occasion as 2013 commemorates 10 years since the awards’ inception. A very happy day indeed and I am grateful that you are all here today to celebrate this very important milestone.

Small businesses and in more recent times SMEs, small and medium enterprises, have been looked at as engines of growth. A lot is said; macro and micro economic policies designed to enable SME growth and participation; yet we find at the end of the day, that many of them fail to thrive beyond the micro or the small business stage.

As a development bank, it is our role to provide financial products that will bring these policies to fruition. From experience, it is perhaps better to address fundamental issues of business and financial literacy, understand the social context under which different cultures operate and keep in mind always, that no one enters into enterprise for the express purpose of failing, it is the failure to plan, understand market conditions and properly manage finances and resources that are the likeliest contributors to an early demise for many start-ups.

We have learnt through successive microfinance programmes that it is not about making money more accessible to people with very little by way of collateral but rather, giving and growing knowledge for naturally, money follows knowledge and not the other way around.

Ladies and gentlemen, it takes a lot for small businesses to survive.  They operate on a purely cash basis, they have limited overdraft and credit facilities with banks or creditors if they do at all; there is very little buffer room for them to withstand external shocks and more importantly, they need their debtors to pay them in a timely manner – this doesn’t always happen especially if that debtor is a larger company.

The theme that we have chosen for this year is Create. Innovate. Grow. The conversion of a business idea into a series of activities that eventually leads to the creation of an enterprise is the first part – to create.

To outwit and outsell competitors, to remain relevant and sustainable, this enterprise must innovate. Once the innovative process takes hold only one outcome is possible, growth – in sales, in reputation, in relevance.

For the awards, we fulfilled the creative process when we launched it in 2004. Over the years we have innovated by adding and removing categories as appropriate. This year we have again made a few changes as part of our innovative process.

The agriculture category, proudly sponsored by Crest Chicken will have two awards – one for mixed farming and the other for livestock or aquaculture which includes fisheries.

The professional business services sponsored by the Reserve Bank and the wholesale/retail category sponsored by FDB now each have two awards – one for sole trader and the other for cooperatives and groups.

The tourism category sponsored by the Fiji Times and the manufacturing category sponsored by New India Assurance will remain as previous.

For the jury prizes, I am pleased to announce that we have included a new category called best risk management – it seemed appropriate therefore that the sponsor for this should be an insurance company – Vinaka Sun!

This category came about following discussions with Sun Insurance after the awards last year. This is the listening and understanding your market part of business innovation, ladies and gentlemen.

Another new jury prize is the small business of the year. This award will be given to the small business that best exemplifies the spirit of enterprise, innovation and good financial management.  This category as well as the special award which we introduced in 2011, are sponsored by FDB.

Also introduced in 2011 was the best business practice category, which is being sponsored by the Life Insurance Corporation of India this year. LICI is our newest sponsor and I would like to welcome Sanjeev and team from LICI to the SBA family of sponsors.

Like our theme this year, we expect that with these new additions, the SBA will continue to grow in stature and in its popularity over the next 10 years. 

It is also my pleasure this morning to introduce our chief guest – a man who needs very little introduction I might add.

Governor Barry Whiteside assumed his present position in May 2011 following an illustrious 34 year career as a central banker with the Reserve Bank of Fiji in various roles.

An ex-Grammarian, Governor Whiteside was also a triple threat back in the day having competed at the national and international level in field hockey, badminton and cricket.

With those few words, it is my pleasure this morning to introduce our chief guest, a man who needs very little introduction. Mr. Barry Whiteside as you all know is the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Fiji.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I invite Mr. Whiteside to deliver his keynote address and launch the 2013 FDB Small Business Awards.

 

Vinaka Vakalevu.

 

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