When Awadei Veeriah Gnanarajah first came to Fiji in 1999 to work as a Quality Control Manager for a local garment factory, he wasn’t planning on making this his new home.
Mr. Gnanarajah or Rajah as he is affectionately known, left his home country of Sri Lanka in pursuit of greener pastures in the garment industry, an industry that is very much part of his family.
Fifteen years later, he is now a Fiji citizen and is the managing director and owner of Tau Sports, a sportswear manufacturer and distributor catering for community sport’s needs and corporate wear. The company is located on Raojibhai Patel street in Suva.
“I fell in love with Fiji the first time I came here. When I became a citizen in 2010, I decided that Fiji needed its own unique sporting brand as this is a predominantly sporting country. This is how the desire for this business started as we wanted something that was uniquely Fijian,” said Rajah.
“Tau Sports thrives on meeting international standards to be able to provide the best quality sportswear and corporate wear with high performance and durability. We have an excellent reputation within the local community and abroad through our products and services.”
The decision to branch out and start his own business was harder than he anticipated as Rajah found that the banks weren’t willing to take the risk of starting out his desired venture.
“I can proudly say that the Fiji Development Bank agreed to finance my business when none of the other commercial banks were willing to take the risk. Understandably, starting out such a new business was extremely risky and I thank FDB for having faith in me.”
Between 2010 and 2011, Rajah took three loans from FDB amounting to more than $200,000 to upgrade his business. He was assisted under FDB’s Import Substitution and Export Finance Facility (ISEFF).
This facility provides working capital for producers and/or exporters of primary and secondary goods as well as the export of certain professional services such as architecture, engineering and maritime services. New and existing locals engaged in agricultural businesses can access this facility at a low interest rate of 5% p.a.
“From that high risk investment we made in 2010, we are now a successful business exporting to countries including Australia, Tuvalu, Samoa, Vanuatu and even Jamaica where we provide sportswear for the Jamaica national rugby team.”
“As a quality insurance manager by profession, my focus is to constantly improve quality standards. Quality is what customers want and that is why they keep coming back to us.”
Rajah plans to grow his business as he recently opened an outlet along the main street in Nadi town. There are also plans in place to open a second outlet in Suva soon as he aims to increase his number of employees from 54 to 100 by the end of the year.
“My secret to success is honesty towards my customers and my employees. As a result, I get the best out of my employees and they keeping making more business for me.”
Tau sports will be part of the FDB Market Day on 14th June, 2014. The event brings together a host of FDB clients to promote and sell their wares at the bank’s head office car park on Victoria Parade, Suva.
The Market Day is open from 6am to 1pm with a wide range of products from root crops, vegetables, fresh fish, sea-food, meat to household items and clothing.