Fiji’s Ministry of Finance permanent secretary, Manasa Vaniqi has called for more support in the development of micro, small and medium enterprises (SSMEs), saying they are the building blocks of Fiji’s economy.
Speaking at the launch of the Small Business Awards in Suva earlier in the week, Vaniqi said the theme, `Building Fiji through Enterprise’ , is fitting in that it reflects the efforts of Government in spurring locals to take on the challenge and become entrepreneurs through investment.
“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,” Vaniqi said.
“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 businesses with the right support and adequate financing, he said, can move on from just producing raw materials or basic goods to value-adding so that their product fetches a higher price.
Since 2004, the Fiji Development Bank has held the Small Business Awards to reward small businesses that show potential for growth.
For this year’s edition, there are seven categories under which small business can enter. They are the Agriculture, Tourism, Wholesale/Retail, Manufacturing, Professional Services, Best Business Practice and the Special Award – the last two awards were introduced last year to enhance the awards.