WELCOME & INTRODUCTION NAFITALAI CAKACAKA – GENERAL MANAGER BUSINESS RISK SERVICES
Chief guest Professor Ian Rouse;
Our valued sponsors, invited guests, our friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen.
A very warm welcome to you all this morning.
Today we will launch the 2nd FDB Small & Medium Enterprises Awards.
This initiative which only started last year succeeds the bank’s former Small Business Awards, a journey that goes way back to 2004.
I’m excited at the inclusion of new sponsors in this year’s awards and I thank Quality Print Ltd, Vinod Patel, Fiji TV and Redox Fiji for choosing to sponsor these prestigious awards for the first time. For the benefit of our chief guest and our new sponsors, let me take you back down memory lane.
In 2004 the bank introduced the FDB National Small Business Awards which drew inspiration from our clients who against insurmountable odds, continue to thrive because of their tenacity and determination.
The name change a year later in 2005 to the FDB Small Business Awards, set the trend of continuous development and innovation, propelling this event to continuously aspire for greater heights.
In light of this, we transformed the FDB Small Business Awards to what is now the FDB Small & Medium Enterprise Awards further expanding the awards to include the medium enterprises locally. What this means is that businesses that turn over up to $500,000 per annum are now eligible to enter as opposed to the $100,000 per annum requirement previously.
The theme for this year’s event is “Courage, the Sure Step to Success” signifying that starting or running a business is not for the faint of heart!
I have always been of the view that anyone that starts a business deserves a medal! One can have all the requisite tools of starting a business but without the valour to take that first step, everything counts for nothing! Awards such as these are one of the avenues that such courage is rewarded.
The SME Awards is very unique in that entrants do not need to be a customer of the Bank to participate. Entry is free of charge and open to anyone to enter. FDB with the assistance of our kind sponsors fully funds the travels, meals and accommodation costs for the finalists. I can assure you this will be a rewarding experience for those who choose to enter the awards.
A total of 15 awards and $36,000 in prize money are up for grabs for this year.
There are five main categories which are Agriculture, Manufacturing, Wholesale & Retail, Tourism and Professional Business Services.
For the jury prizes, there are four main awards and these are the Best Business Practice Award sponsored by LICI, the Best Risk Management Award sponsored by Sun Insurance, the Green Conscious Award sponsored by New India Assurance and the Rookie Entrepreneur of the Year award sponsored by Redox. The Rookie Entrepreneur award is aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs to step into the world of business!
The final award is the SME of the Year Award sponsored by FDB. This award will be given to the SME entrepreneur that best exemplifies the spirit of enterprise, innovation and good financial management.
Ladies and gentlemen at this juncture I would like to introduce our chief guest Professor Ian Rouse.
Professor Rouse has been the acting Vice Chancellor for the Fiji National University since January this year.
Prior to his appointment, Professor Rouse was the Dean of the Fiji School of Medicine since 2009. He has undergraduate qualifications in biological sciences, postgraduate experience in health sciences, doctoral research in epidemiology and postdoctoral research in nutritional epidemiology from the Harvard University.
His employment history spans the fields of medical research, public health, epidemiology and information management in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and the United States. He has been involved in the medical fraternity since joining the Biochemistry Department of the University of Western Australia in 1975.
So why ask a medicine man and the head of FNU to speak on small & medium enterprises?
FNU provides the much needed training to mould and enhance business minded individuals through its College of Business, Hospitality and Tourism Studies, the College of Engineering, Science and Technology, the College of Agriculture and the National Training and Productivity Centre.
As an educator, Professor Rouse is aware of the importance of SMEs as an economic driver in providing employment opportunities to students graduating through FNU.
He recently spoke at a training of trainers on Total Quality Management for SMEs focusing on the need for SMEs to embrace quality systems. At the helm of FNU, the good Professor will be able to fully appreciate the importance of SMEs to any economy.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I invite Professor Rouse to deliver his keynote address and launch the 2015 FDB Small & Medium Enterprises Awards.