Bula Vinaka and good evening.
It is my honour to deliver the closing address, move the vote of thanks and extend the Bank’s appreciation to each one of you for promoting SME growth for future generations. It has been my pleasure to personally meet each one of you, our esteemed partners and stakeholders.
Firstly, I extend our sincere appreciation to our chief guest, His Excellency, Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, the President of the Republic of Fiji – thank you Your Excellency for accepting our invitation.
To our guests – thank you for joining us in supporting the growth of Fijian SMEs.
Ladies and gentlemen, the application drive for the 2017 National SME Awards, the longest for any SME Awards so far, attracted an unprecedented 320 category applicants from 192 individual SMEs. Thank you to all our applicants – you are in our minds and we will reach out to you again soon.
The initial processing of applications involved a screening process based on merit of whether the applicants met the mandatory criteria requirements. An extensive evaluation exercise followed to gather more information through site visitations of 143 businesses throughout Fiji.
To ensure that site visitations were conducted efficiently, we had integrated transparency safeguards throughout the entire process. An independent panel of judges then decided on the final winners from the further shortlisted list of applicants. A total of 166 category applicants were assessed.
Ladies and gentlemen, the journey has been rewarding. As challenging as exciting I would say.
But, we couldn’t have done it without our Development Ambassadors.
As a development Bank, we could not just label anyone as Development Ambassador. We also have not done this because our sponsors funded the award prize monies or because our partners assisted in delivering this event. We have labelled our award sponsors and partners as such because we share common goals and values.
Award sponsors provided sponsorship to the value of the prize money for the awards. The total prize money for this year’s awards have increased from the previous $36,000 to a grand $61,000. That is almost a two-fold increase in awards’ prize money of $5,000 each with the National SME of the Year receiving $6,000 in cash.
We express our gratitude to six of our long standing sponsors:
New India Assurance
Reserve Bank of Fiji; and
Our TV partner, Fiji Television.
Our 11 new sponsors and partners include:
Ministry of Industry, Trade & Tourism
Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.
Our Creative Partner, Art & Soul;
Event Partner, Orange Productions;
Special Partner, J. Hunter Pearls;
Custom-made award plaque co-sponsor, Jack’s Fiji; and
Venue host, the Grand Pacific Hotel
Thank you for your sponsorship. We appreciate your commitment to our shared goals and value your contribution.
To our five esteemed judges:
Mr. Nesbitt Hazelman
Chief Executive Officer
Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation
Ms. Lorraine Seeto
Chief Manager, Governor’s Office
Reserve Bank of Fiji
Ms. Sangita Kumar
Senior Business Adviser
Market Development Facility
Mr. Sekove Tamanitoakula
Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism
Ms. Alisi Tuqa
Acting Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization
Thank you for your time and patience in carrying out an extensive assessment of 166 businesses. As a token of appreciation, we would like to present to you a gift hamper proudly sponsored by our special partner, J. Hunter Pearls. Could I ask you to come to the stage to receive your gift?
To all our winners – congratulations!
To our Guests – we hope that you have enjoyed your evening and we look forward to hosting you again for the 2018 FDB National SME Awards.
Lastly, thank you to our many devoted FDB staff – from both within our branches and head office – who have worked so hard to make this event possible. We appreciate your efforts and I trust your reward is the success of the event.
Please enjoy the remainder of the evening.