Winners of the FDB’s 2019 National Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Awards 

Congratulations to all the winners of the FDB’s 2019 National Small & Medium Enterprise Awards.

Check out the videos  from the listing below and scroll on to read about our winners. 

ABOUT THE WINNERS:

L-R: Reserve Bank of Fiji Deputy Governor RBF, Mr Esala Masitabua, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Winner of the Agriculture Award, Ms. Arun Lata of Eden’s Farm and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

Award 1: Agriculture – Sponsored by Reserve Bank of Fiji  

Winner:  Eden’s Farm

For Arun Lata gaining only a primary school education did not stop her from venturing into aquaculture. Her entry into fish farming began in 2004 when she started her first 2 fish ponds.

While her journey has had its challenges inlcuding drought and flooding  Technical Assistance from SPC and the Ministry of Fisheries and a loan from FDB, today she has built a total of 6 fish ponds and construction of a fish incubation system. Assisted by extended family she runs a successful aquaculture business selling harvested fish at Nausori market.

L-R: Quality Print Founder and Chairman, Mr. Dewan Chand Maharaj, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Winner of the Wholesale & Retail award, Mr. Rohit Deo and Ms. Reema Deo of Bakewell Cakes and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Award 2: Wholesale & Retail – Sponsored by Quality Print  

Winner: Bakewell Cakes

Tapping into his experience as a production baker at FMF and turning down a job offer in NZ for a similar role Rohit Deo decided he would remain in Fiji and give back by venturing out on his own when he joined a partnership that was Bakewell Cakes in 2014.

Taking full ownership of the business a few short years later and a relocation of operations from Lami to Samabula Bakewell Cakes is one of many cake shops in the City of Suva and ensuring the business remained competitive brought many challenges.

Rohit has attributed the success of his business to a quality product and a competitive environment that brings the best out of his people.

Clientele include large retail chains, event planners and individuals. Bakewell Cakes plans to expand outside Suva in the near future.

L-R: Fiji Sun Business Editor, Ms. Maraia Vula, Winner of the Tourism Award Mr. Naresh Kumar Shankaran of Green Lodge, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Ms. Kumar and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Award 3: Tourism – Sponsored by Fiji Sun

Winner: Green Lodge

Green Lodge –offers green lodging, forest tours and bird watching activities for tourist at sister business Nabogiono Farm as well as and traditional knowledge transfer such as on medicinal plants.

It operates under three key pillars of conservation, education and ecotourism.

The 100 acres of forestland where the lodge is – is actually home to various wildlife flora, fauna, and native species. The business arm operates in order to generate enough income to maximize biodiversity conservation.

The business promotes conservation for 35 years now. The agroforestry inspired integrated farming allows 70% of the food served for tourists to be “farm to table”. The tourist could pick their food straight from the farm.

Other attractions include rainwater harvesting, 100% solar energy powered venture with green waste produced at the lodge being recycled back into the farm as manure.

Straws are made from plant stalks and through such practices the SME promotes wider environmental awareness for sustainable development and ecological stewardship.

L-R: Merchant Finance Ltd, Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Rowena Fong, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Winner of the Professional & Business Services Award, Mr. Waisea Vuaniyasi and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Award 4: Professional & Business Services – Sponsored by Merchant Finance & FDB

Winner: Waisea Vuaniyasi

Lack of access to regular transport services in the interior of the Ra province is commonplace.

Incentivized by the government e-ticketing subsidy to school children Waisea Vuaniyasi set up a carrier service transporting students to and from school daily. Waisea took out a loan from FDB for setup of the business which included the purchase of 3 carriers.

The business also offers services from the various villages to the main town centres along the King’s Road bridging much needed access to marketplaces and other services for the people of Nasau and surrounding communities.

L-R: Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Director Registrar and Co-operative, Mr. Mr. Faizal Khan, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Winner of the Manufacturing Award, Mr. Mr. Madhuwan Reddy of Labasa Farm Fresh and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Award 5: Manufacturing – Sponsored by Fijian Made

Winner: Labasa Farm Fresh

Labasa Farm Fresh is a major exporter based in Vanua Levu specializing in sourcing local produce, processing and packaging for the Australian market. The company engages with several farmer clusters on a regular basis and a 2018 report by the Market Development Facility stated that Labasa Farm Fresh had increased sourcing to 576 households mostly located in rural areas.

The business targets non-cultivated or wild-grown produce such as jackfruit and breadfruit as well as Rosella Leaves, Cowpeas, Bongo Chilli, grated Casava leaves, diced pawpaw, bele and shredded coconut amongst more.

It employees about 20 staff majority of which are women.

The company started in 2011 with export of local vegetables like jackfruit, chillies and beans to Australia. The company was started with only $25,000.00.

L-R: New India Assurance, Chief Operating Officer, Ms. M. Rama, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Green SME of the Year Award Winner, Mr. Mark Hirst and Ms. Susana Tuilau of The Beehive Resort; and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Category 2: Impact Awareness SMEs

Award 1: Green SME of the Year – Sponsored by New India Assurance

Winner: The Beehive Resort

Muppet Enterprises Ltd T/A The Beehive Resort practices rural and agro tourism as part of its wider ecotourism operations.  The Beehive’s Fijian Organic certified honey is sold only in glass bottles to promote recycling and discourage the use of plastic bottles.  Their organic herb, fruits and vegetable garden is nurtured only with organic fertilizers from their waste compost.  The SME is phasing to solar energy for hot water and is currently harvesting trapped roof water for basic needs. The ecotourism venture advocates on the importance of bees for food security in light of challenges such as climate change, use of pesticides and loss of habitat and biodiversity. Future plans include the establishment of a Honey Education Centre to help surrounding bee farmers.

L-R: Sun Insurance, General Manager, Customer Service, Mr. Thomas Naua, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Winner of the Risk Conscious SME of the Year award, Mr. Salim Buksh of Organic Valley and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

FDB’s 2019 National SME Awards: Category 2: Impact Awareness SMEs

Award 2: Risk Conscious SME of the Year – Sponsored by Sun Insurance

Winner: Organic Valley

Organic Valley is the biggest broiler contract shed in Fiji, and the only contract grower shed in Fiji equipped with tunnel ventilation system. Salim Buksh owner of Organic Valley in Sarava Ba had lost it all after Tropical Cyclone Winston. He built back a disaster resilient, insured, automated farm in 3 years and today his shed has the capacity to host 45,000 chickens. The automated system ensures a controlled environment for the birds. This has contributed to increase in the farm’s efficiency as well as density, leading to increase in production and profit.

L-R: Fiji National University, Director Marketing and Communications, Ms. Jenies Mudiliar, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Rookie Youth Entrepreneur of the Year, Mr. Rohit Singh of Indulge Designer Cakes and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

Category 3: Empowerment Awards

Award 1: Rookie Youth Entrepreneur of the Year – Sponsored by Fiji National University

Winner: Indulge Designer Cakes

The desire to give back to the community in Ba and to offer residents a different food experience spurred Rohit Singh return home and set up Indulge Designer Cakes.

With over 10 years working as chef in the tourism industry and exposure to a wide variety food cultures there was a huge risk involved in bringing these new experiences to Ba that was mainly Chinese and Indian based.

This however has been a welcome change to the food scene and offers customers from as far as Tavua a whole new variety of mains and gourmet desserts at affordable prices previously only available in Lautoka and Nadi.

L-R: Mechanical Services Limited, Business Development Manager, Mr. Mr. Melvin Singh, Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Youth Entrepreneur of the Year, Mr. Avneel Prasad of Ace Kava Exporters and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

Category 3: Empowerment Awards

Award 2: Youth Entrepreneur of the Year – Sponsored by Mechanical Services Limited

Winner: Ace Kava Exporters

Ace Kava Exporters is a manufacturer, exporter and e-commerce retailer of kava products, owning the online premium and well renown kava brand in the US Kava Time. Raw kava is sourced from select farmers who collaborate on educating themselves about quality requirements, drying techniques, and are empowered by the provision of modern tools such as digital hanging scales to better their outputs.

The raw material is processed, value-added and packaged at their export premises.

Ace Kava’s product is USFDA-approved as a dietary supplement manufacturer for export to the US market.

The business has grown to export approximately 2 tonnes of top-shelf kava annually.

L-R: Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Permanent Secretary, Ms. Jennifer Poole Chief Guest, The President of the Republic of Fiji His Excellency Major General (Ret’d) Jioji Konusi Konrote, Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, Ms. Leisani Saumaisue of Vines Travels Financial Enterprise and FDB Board Director, Mr. Rajesh Patel.

Category 3: Empowerment Awards

Award 3: Woman Entrepreneur of the Year –Sponsored by Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation

Winner: Vines Travels Financial Enterprise

Leisani Saumaisue of Vines Travels Financial Enterprise is a woman of faith.

She described herself as just a stay home mother before her and another woman started a business together. Her business partner was an experienced travel agent, but she later left the business and migrated. Without any formal experience or investment, Leisani closed that business and started Vines Travel. Times were hard and the business went into a debt of $10,000. Leisani’s office was closed twice after failure to pay her debts. Leisani says her faith in god and her will to continue and try kept her going. She was finally able to clear the debts and today Vines Travel is going on the 7th year of business. It is a growing travel agency in Suva employing only single mothers or women who need social support systems, like Leisani once needed. Since no one from her family supported her, Leisani has made it her commitment to support her work family individuals.

The FDB’s 2019 National SME of the Year Award Winner, Mr. Naresh Kumar Shankaran receiving his award on stage. Green Lodge is the WINNER of Category 4: National SME of the Year The FDB’s 2019 National SME of the Year award is sponsored by the Fiji Development Bank.

WINNER of Category 4: National SME of the Year

The FDB’s 2019 National SME of the Year award is sponsored by the Fiji Development Bank.

WINNER: Green Lodge

Green Lodge –offers green lodging, native land forest tours and bird watching activities for tourist through a its conservation-based agroforestry100 acres of forest land, making Green Lodge an enterprise that operates under three key pillars of conservation, education and ecotourism.

The 100 acres of forestland where the lodge is – is actually home to various wildlife flora, fauna, and native species. The business arm operates in order to generate enough income to maximize biodiversity conservation.

The business promotes conservation for 35 years now. The agroforestry inspired integrated farming allows 70% of the food served for tourists to be “farm to table”. The tourist could pick their food straight from the farm.

The farmhouse and the lodge are 100% reliant on solar energy. Rainwater is harvested to meet basic needs and green waste produced at the lodge are recycled back into the farm as manure.

Straws are made from plant stalks and through such practices the SME promotes wider environmental awareness for sustainable development and ecological stewardship. Trees from the forest that were damaged during TC Winston are now being cleared for sustainable logging and for making furniture.