2018 FDB's National Small and Medium Enterprise Awards
February 28, 2019 Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva
Chief Executive Officer, Fiji Development Bank, Mr. Mark Clough;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
FDB Board Chairman, Mr. Robert (Bob) Lyon;
Our Esteemed Judges;
Our Small and Medium Entrepreneurs and nominees for the FDB 2018 National SME
FDB Management & Team, Sponsors and Partners of FDB’s 2018 National SME Awards;
Distinguished Guests, Fellow Fijians watching from the comfort of their homes or mobile
devices Live on Fiji One and Fiji TV’s Live Stream platform;
Members of the Media, and
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Namaskar and a very good evening to you all.
I am extremely delighted and honoured to be present here amongst you all to celebrate the success and achievements of Fiji’s Small and Medium Enterprises this evening.
Ladies and gentlemen the fundamental principle of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is “Leave no one behind”. The Agenda, a collection of seventeen (17) global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly and adopted by World Leaders, universally apply to all.
Countries, including Fiji, have committed to mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, whilst ensuring that no one is left behind.
The new goals are unique in that they call for action to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that address a range of social needs including education, health, and social protection, job opportunities, tackling climate change, ensuring environmental protection, and sustaining economic growth.
As your Head of State, it is my responsibility to remind our fellow Fijians that growth must be diverse and that development must achieve social equity and environmental sustainability.
Ladies and gentlemen, the National Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Awards - being driven with the vision of promoting an inclusive and sustainable approach for the growth of the SME sector, through recognition of successful and innovative entrepreneurs - is an innovative solution for our Fijian businesses.
I note with great interest that the theme of this year’s awards, “Promoting Inclusive and Green Development for SMEs” builds on last year’s theme of “Promoting SME Growth for Future Generations”.
The award categories are designed to recognize SMEs that are developing and excelling in their sectors, adding value to the economy, being responsive to the impacts of climate change and actively progressing global and local development initiatives that indeed call for our concerted efforts.
These awards are one of a kind and I applaud the Fiji Development Bank for providing such an incentive and a visionary platform to our SME sector.
From addressing our economy’s core sectors of agriculture, wholesale/retail, professional business services, manufacturing, and tourism, the awards recognize SMEs that are green conscious, that incorporate risk management strategies; those that help consumers mitigate or adapt to the impacts of climate change in the provision of goods and services, and those that are disaster resilient.
Closer to my heart are the Special Awards that recognize those SMEs that have shown exceptional effort in progressing Sustainable Development. This category includes the Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Ladies and gentlemen, Entrepreneurship and decent work is the foundation of economic empowerment. They support the economic empowerment of women and men, families, and communities.
FDB’s National SME Awards is a building block for the work that the Fijian Government has set out to achieve.
Empowering our SMEs through knowledge sharing and capacity building is essential to ensuring that they possess the necessary skills and ability to sustain their businesses, progress and expand.
SMEs are a catalyst for poverty alleviation and economic development. However, most of such businesses, especially the smaller ones, operate in informal set-ups that can be unnerving for the SMEs in their attempt to progress and grow into a larger corporate enterprise.
SME businesses face a number of challenges – from business registration, to compliance with tax and other standards such as Organizational, Health, and Safety controls, proper record keeping and healthy banking habits as well as strategizing business plans, business continuity plans in times of crisis and understanding marketing strategies.
To increase their purchasing power and overcome their challenges, SME enterprises need support, such as the kind provided by FDB and the Sponsors and Partners of this Award, should they wish to grow to corporate entities. When this is achieved, it will lead to increased contributions to the nation’s GDP.
FDB’s National SME Awards is a platform to advocate for good business practices as is evident from the awards eligibility and judging criteria.
The winning businesses here today are those that have demonstrated innovative traits or business methods, shown evidence of success as measured by sales and profits, those that have demonstrated acceptable banking habits and savings trends as well as efficient bookkeeping attributes.
These are those businesses that exhibit potential for long-term success and those that demonstrate environmental awareness and a commitment to the community.
Last year FDB introduced a first award of its kind in Fiji – an award that recognizes SMEs that are responsive to the impacts of Climate Change and the Most Resilient SME Post-TC Winston, now renamed to the Most Disaster Resilient SME.
The Climate Change Responsive SME Award was introduced to encourage SME start-ups and expansion in response to the effects of climate change. It awards those SME businesses that are being responsive by providing goods and services that contribute towards mitigation or adaptation to the impacts of climate change.
I am particularly interested in the example printed on the brochure that we have all received today for this event. It states that if you operate a water tank business and you see a need to expand your stock to cater for more customers who are facing more and more water shortages, likely due to changes in weather patterns; Your SME is contributing towards adaptation of these communities facing water shortages and your business is being responsive to the impacts of climate change.
The judging criteria for this award looked for evidence of your SME’s contribution towards empowering communities to adapt to the impacts of climate change through the use of your products and services.These awards have technological advancement and innovation at the forefront of their objective.
The fact that the applications are being judged on evidence of technologies developed, matured, or commercialized to adapt to the impacts of climate change for your consumers shows that our SMEs must start embracing innovative technology and start adapting to sustainable development and growth to be able to achieve our ultimate goal.
Then we will be seeing more innovative solutions that not only address climate change but also drive the progress on other Sustainable Development Goals such as health, gender equality and job creation.
A similar award is the Green Conscious SME Award. It is designed to promote and encourage SMEs to go green in their business operations.
It promotes the incorporation of sound business practices such as efficiency, sound financial management practices and innovation in operations.
SMEs vying for this award are required to demonstrate their commitment to implement eco-friendly management activities, exhibit commitment to producing minimum waste or adopting waste management initiatives that are environmentally friendly.
I am told that applications were screened for evidence of efficient energy use and promotion of use of renewable energy by the business. A commitment to reduce, recycle and re-use practices is also point earners for our environment, ladies and gentlemen.
Before I move away from the subject of climate change, I am happy to note that FDB has retained its Most Disaster Resilient SME Award. This reflects research which indicates that disasters such as cyclones are expected to be stronger in our region.
Conceived from the thought that we need to start getting SMEs to think about disaster, FDB’s Most Disaster Resilient SME Award recognizes SME businesses that have recovered from damage caused by natural disasters such as cyclone or flooding and that have demonstrated resilience in its operations and performance in the six months post disaster.
For this award, the businesses must demonstrate innovative traits or business methods for Business Continuity post a natural disaster. Show evidence of structural or policy changes that have been made to implement disaster management plan. Show of strong leadership qualities with the ability to drive the business forward with a clear business ambition and commitment to continuous improvement post disaster.
Ladies and gentlemen, to those SMEs that applied for the Best Risk Managed SME award, I am proud of you for demonstrating an enterprise risk monitoring and management mechanism. Showing prudence towards structural, environmental, occupational health and safety, public liability, liquidity, human capital and market risks qualified you to be shortlisted for this award. Congratulations!
Two more awards that we are equally proud of are the Youth and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
I look forward to meeting those two entrepreneurs who have demonstrated innovative traits or business methods that give them a strategic advantage in the marketplace as well as strong leadership and management qualities with the ability to drive their business forward.
Before I conclude, I would also like to mention that the Developing SME Awards category focuses on the core sectors that FDB finances: Agriculture, Wholesale/Retail, Tourism, Professional Business Services and Manufacturing.
Ladies and gentlemen, through FDB’s informative brochure detailing the awards and their purpose, I am glad that SMEs have been schooled on the need to be innovative in their business methods and to position their products and services to have a strategic advantage in the market place.
I hope you have picked on some crucial hints of the judging criteria that emphasise on strong financial performance and business growth that is importantly related to having healthy banking habits, savings trend and efficient bookkeeping. The Fijian Government is a firm believer in financial literacy and I am happy to note that FDB, the sponsors and partners share the same commitment and vision for the Fijian people.
Environmental awareness and a commitment to the community is a core element of the judging criteria and I am confident, it has made the 532 entrants to the FDB’s 2018 National SME Awards, think positively on these important requirements.
I am so proud to note that the Fiji Development Bank’s [FDB] National Small and Medium Enterprise Awards is about cultivating a business culture for SME operators that assist in progressing Fiji’s national development agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, locally.
The Fijian Government holds close this promise of the 2030 Agenda in truly leaving no one behind as we rise as a nation, and we are truly privileged that FDB’s 2018 National SME Awards is a strong advocate for that commitment.
I congratulate the twelve (12) businesses that will be awarded for their exceptional performance this evening. You are champions in your communities!
I congratulate the Fiji Development Bank, the award sponsors, partners and judges for their commitment in embracing the global and national development agenda by coming on board FDB’s National SME Awards to realize common goals.
To the award nominees, well done for your hard work and congratulations for being shortlisted for these awards.
Vinaka vakalevu and thank you. May God bless you all and bless our beloved Fiji!