Thursday, September 07, 2017
Labasa businessmen Charan Jeath Singh, Bashir Khan and his grandson Nauman Khan at the function. Picture: SERAFINA SILAITOGA
WIDOW, Prabha Wati is one of the oldest canefarmers in Seaqaqa and her hard work was recognised by the Fiji Development Bank for being a loyal customer.
Ms Wati was one of the three faithful customers who started their businesses through FDB loans in the 1970s.
The other two customers awarded were Labasa businessman Bashir Khan and Seaqaqa canefarmer Salacieli Ravatuniwasaliwa.
Their stories of hard labour inspired other guests who were part of the birthday celebrations held at the Friendly North Inn on Tuesday night.
For a hardworking woman like Ms Wati who lost her husband in 1992 and having to fend for six children while managing the cane farm was a real challenge.
“It was not easy because my children were all small when their dad died so I had to be the farmer, mother and father of the family,” she said.
“That is not easy because I didn’t work and depended on the farm to support my children especially putting them through school.
“During those kind of times, being assisted by the FDB really helped and I have remained with them until today.”
Labasa business tycoon Mr Khan, who lost his mum at the age of five and having to drop out of school in Class 4 because of financial constraints only smiled when asked about his success.
“I have been with this bank from 1970 when I started my sawmill business and it’s always good to have a good relationship with your lender,” he said.
“My business has grown into smaller branches and it now includes a shopping mall, properties in Labasa Town, sawmill and other small businesses.
“Through these businesses, I have managed to employ people who are supporting their families and it’s a great feeling knowing people benefit.”
Mr Khan said the financial loan from FDB had multiple positive effects on the community.
Canefarmer Salacieli Ravatuniwasaliwa is another long-time customer of FDB.
“Cane farming is a good business and we should treat it professionally,” he said.
“I am based in Nanivuda but a lot of farmers I started with have left and migrated.
“But we all have different reasons for leaving. However, for me, I have had no problems and it’s simply because I have treated my cane farm like a business.”
Mr Ravatuniwasaliwa owns a 700 tonne cane farm and income earned from it has educated his children.
“I have been farming for a long time and the financial assistance has helped me get through life.”