WELCOME & INTRODUCTION NAFITALAI CAKACAKA – ACTING CEO, FDB
Chief guest Ms. Mereia Volavola;
Our valued sponsors – the Reserve Bank of Fiji; Crest Chicken, the Fiji Times, Sun Insurance; Life Insurance Corporation of India and New India Assurance.
Invited guests, our friends from the media, ladies and gentlemen.
A very warm welcome to you all this morning and thank you for making time to be part of this momentous event.
In 2004, FDB started on an uncharted journey with the introduction of the FDB National Small Business Awards.
This has drawn 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 aspiring for greater heights. This morning’s launch is no exception.
I’m extremely proud and fortunate to be here today to bear witness to the transformation of the FDB Small Business Awards to what will now be the FDB Small & Medium Enterprise Awards. What this means is businesses that are turning over up to $500,000 per annum can also enter these awards. In previous years this was only limited to businesses turning over a maximum of $100,000 per annum.
Ladies and gentlemen I can assure you, this is the first of many more great SME Awards and our track record with the Small Business Awards is testament to that fact.
You may ask, why the change and why now?
Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs, have been dubbed the engines of growth and our chosen theme of “SMEs – The drivers of Our Future Growth” aptly captures this perception.
Government’s focus over the past few years has been in growing the SME sector with the latest announcement in the 2014 budget with more concessions given to SMEs; for example, raising taxable threshold for SMEs from $300,000 to $500,000 on turnover per annum.
As a development bank, it is our role to provide financial products and services that will bring government policies to fruition. Our role as a development financier is not limited to us providing financial services alone but we have taken on board the challenge of development initiator and facilitator. The recent signing of the Tilivalevu Beef Scheme between FDB and 12 government agencies is an example of the proactive approach that we are taking towards development. These awards are the back hand process of initiating, facilitating, financing and then rewarding SMEs for their efforts. I like to call this the FDB Approach.
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. So they have the support from the very beginning of entering the awards.
The agriculture category, proudly sponsored by Crest Chicken will have two awards – one for mixed farming and the other for livestock or aquaculture which includes fisheries.
The professional business services sponsored by the Reserve Bank and the wholesale/retail category sponsored by FDB will have two awards – one for sole trader and the other for cooperatives and groups.
Similarly, the tourism category sponsored by the Fiji Times and the manufacturing category sponsored by New India Assurance.
For the jury prizes, there are three main awards and these are the Best Business Practice Award sponsored by LICI, the Best Risk Management Award sponsored by Sun Insurance and the Special Award sponsored by FDB.
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 having said that, it is also my pleasure this morning to introduce to you our chief guest Ms. Mereia Volavola.
Ms. Volavola has been the Chief Executive Officer of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) since 2010. She has vast knowledge and experience in the area of Finance and Banking.
Prior to joining PIPSO, Ms Volavola held the position of CEO of the Capital Markets Development Authority in Fiji. She has also worked for the Reserve Bank of Fiji, HFC Finance Ltd and Housing Authority.
Ms. Volavola holds an MBA in Banking and Finance with a Distinction from the University of Wales, UK and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of the South Pacific in Economics and Business Management. She is also a Board Member of Merchant Finance.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I invite Ms. Volavola to deliver her keynote address and launch FDB’s very first 2014 Small & Medium Enterprises Awards.