Assistant Minister of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Sashi Kiran believes women entrepreneurs are a growing market force and are a boost to Fiji’s economy.
Kiran while officiating at the launch of the Insurance Component with the Fiji Development Bank Loan for Women Entrepreneurs in Suva today said women entrepreneurs are serving as a critical source of innovation and job creation and fueling economic growth.
“Women are indispensable in our journey of national development and if we are to sustain and enjoy steady development, we must continue to provide them equal access to education, health, other fundamental rights and freedoms so that our women can advance to work in safe spaces which are free from violence to our mothers, daughters, and sisters.”
“The population demography shows that women make up 49.3% of the total population and therefore we all need to provide women with equal opportunities so that their families can break the cycle of poverty and give them a solid base to pursue economic growth of independence.”
Kiran highlighted that women-owned businesses do not have equal access to the capital – or the networks – needed to stabilise or expand.
“Over the years there has been an increase in women-owned businesses however it is also evident how women entrepreneurs face complex barriers in setting up their businesses or even taking their ventures to new heights because of limited access to finance. Tackling the unique challenges of women entrepreneurs requires innovative financial solutions.”
Fiji Development Bank chief executive Saud Minam said the Government of Fiji allocated one million dollar to FDB for this facility and the allocation was for 10 per cent equity contributions for customers subsidized by the Government as a grant.
The loan facility allows a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $5,000 with a loan term of three years which is available to sole traders, joint ventures and partnership businesses.
Minam said from August last year to 10 February 2023, FDB has received nearly 2000 applications out of which 577 have been approved for a value of $1.4 million
“The facility was designed considering the importance of women’s economic empowerment and that participating in economic activities allows women to make positive changes in their own lives and communities with a ripple effect that will eventually benefit national economic development.”
“The program targeted women entrepreneurs with registered businesses in operation for a minimum of 6 months who required working capital or needed to expand their existing business.”
Tower Insurance (Fiji) Limited Country Manager Joseph Magnus said the notable feature of this facility is the zero-security requirement.
“Keeping in mind that women were facing issues with providing security because many times it had been noted that the security belonged to the spouses. With this, they had no other resorts to secure finance for the expansion of their businesses.”
“The requirement of the business being registered and in operation for a minimum of six months to qualify for this facility is a tool to encourage entrepreneurs to register their businesses so they can take advantage of the facilities being developed for them.”