MIL-OSI Asia-Pacific: MINISTER KUMAR AT THE LAUNCH OF THE FIJI ENTERPRISE ENGINE (FEE) PROGRAMME

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Source: Republic Of Fiji

3/15/2019

Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Fiji, Anna Dorney;
Director – International Labour Organisation Pacific, Donglin Li;
Chairman – Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you all today to launch the Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE) Programme, the first private-sector led business accelerator in Fijian history.
I’ve been informed that the Fiji Enterprise Engine will have a group of 15 young men and women from the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) sector and this programme will run from March to November this year.

I would like to commend the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) and the Market Development Facility (MDF) for this great initiative. This private-sector incubator complements the Fijian Government’s efforts to build and develop the capacity of our MSMEs and contribute to the development of our nation. Let’s give them a round of applause.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

MSMEs form the backbone of the Fijian economy. They contribute over 18% of the GDP and provide employment for approximately 60% of the Fijian labour force.

There are over 24,000 formally registered MSMEs in Fiji. And through various Government initiatives, we have been able to formalise a large number that otherwise would have remained informal. Since 2008, initiatives such as the Northern Development Programme, the Integrated Human Resources Development Programme and Micro and Small Business Grant have formalised over 40,900 MSMEs from all parts of Fiji.

What does this mean? It means the hard work of these entrepreneurs is being recognised – they are counted as key contributors to the Fijian economy. MSMEs also help keep the money in our economy. So supporting MSMEs also means you’re supporting more local jobs, more Fijian goods and services, and more income to go around.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s important we nurture our young entrepreneurs as we invest in the future of Fiji. We need to give our ambitious young people the support and resources they need to grow into productive and educated Fijians.

Our young entrepreneurs are facing specific challenges. So let’s consider some of these challenges. They may not be experienced in business, technical skills may not be matured, and business networks and access to market information may be limited compared to established competitors. Young entrepreneurs can also face a lack of access to financial support and ample knowledge of Government policies and regulations.

But if we look at the positive side of young entrepreneurs, we can find tremendous enthusiasm and an eagerness to be successful. They have the advantage of time, physical and mental strength, fresh ideas, creativity and even the power of dreaming. Globally, it’s true that more enterprises are started by youths.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
We want stronger Fijian enterprises, we want more dreamers and achievers. We want young MSMEs to remain an engine of growth for our economy and employment creators for all Fijians. To properly do this, we need to look at the enterprise landscape in Fiji.

MSMEs face different challenges at different stages of their development. We recognise that the capacities and capabilities of our enterprises vary across their sizes and sectors. But so do their skills. This is why the Fijian Government does not use a one-size fits all approach to our policies and support.

We must all remember the specific needs of each group of enterprises. The Fijian Government will continue to provide programmes aimed at helping enterprises in each segment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Fiji’s 5-Year and 20-Year National Development Plan states that the growth of MSMEs is essential for job creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, rural development and the empowerment of youth and women. The Fijian Government’s intervention focuses on improving the institutional setting, access to finance, business incubation, training and connecting MSMEs to markets. The establishment of the Fiji Enterprise engine will address the provision of appropriate training to MSMEs who do not currently have technical capabilities to operate their own businesses.

In reforming the MSME business regulatory environment, the establishment of a Central Coordinating Agency to guide the development of our MSMEs and coordinate the efforts of the various stakeholders, is something that the Fijian Government has set out to do.
To improve MSME’s access to finance, Government aims to increase the provision of finance available through Government funded programmes, such as the Micro and Small Business Grant, SME Credit Guarantee Scheme, Young Entrepreneurship Scheme and SME supporting assistance through the Fiji Development Bank.

The Young Entrepreneurship Scheme or YES was launched in January 2018 to assist young Fijian entrepreneurs. Now with the age limit increased to 40 years and the amendments to the eligibility criteria, more young Fijians have the opportunity to make their business dreams and ideas a reality.

With the establishment of the Fiji Enterprise Engine, we are happy that YES recipients will be given the opportunity to undergo further mentoring and class room type learning on important business related topics. I like to thank Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation and the MDF for offering 3 training slots to YES recipients. We look forward to your reports on the progress of the three YES funded business ventures! We hope this marks the beginning of a long and fruitful working relationship with Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation . In promoting this form of ‘Public-Private Partnership’ (PPP), both the private sector and Government can benefit significantly.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Coming back to today’s event, my best wishes to the 15 participants. May your entrepreneurial knowledge and skills further develop to assist your businesses. I encourage you to challenge each other in being innovative in all that you do and to assist each other in moving forward. Growing up, we didn’t have these chances. So see this as an opportunity for you to learn. Learn from your peers, learn from your trainers and mentors.

To the Board of Directors of Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation , I look forward to more of such engagements in future and I thank you most sincerely for today’s kind invitation.

With those words, congratulation once again to Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation and MDF on your milestone achievement.

Thank you. Vinaka vakalevu. Dhanyavaad.
 

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