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Hon. Ministers;
Permanent Secretaries;
Commissioner Central;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula Vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

Today marks yet another exciting chapter not only for our fellow Fijians present here but also the Fijian Government as we continue with the disbursement of the Fijian Government’s Micro and Small Business Grant disbursement to our well-deserved 2,331 Grant recipients here in Nausori.

Ladies and Gentlemen

It has always been the Government’s vision to ensure that all ordinary Fijians have accessible to sustainable living, hence, initiatives such as the Micro and Small Business Grant are implemented to ensure that we meet that objective.

The scheme is to allow you to kick – start your business or provide a leg up to your existing business through the provision of grants that will contribute to improved livelihoods and reduction in poverty through the generation of economic activities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The scheme also sets out a platform that drives our Micro, Small and Medium Sector, the engine of economic growth and you the recipients here today will assist us in seeing that we do achieve that objective.
In recognizing your various talents and capabilities, the Fijian Government has invested $2.29m in your various business ventures with the hope that you all will take advantage of this opportunity and make a difference in your various communities.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Since its inception, I am proud to say that we have assisted a total of 9,748 grant recipients with an investment to the tune of $9.3m to date. Following today’s event, Government would have invested a total of $11.59m to assist 12,079 micro-entrepreneurs, and directly impacting the livelihoods of 60,395 ordinary Fijians. I am also pleased to announce that the programme has been allocated with a $6.4m budget for this 2017/2018 financial year.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The continuation of the programme has been greatly supported through the positive feedback received during the completion of the initial monitoring exercise by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism which shows that we have a 60% success rate thus far in terms of businesses that have being monitored to date.
We, however will continue to monitor the impact of this important MSME initiative and Government to this end has allocated additional resources to ensure that the monitoring, evaluation, mentoring, and business development support services continue to be provided for past and new grant recipients.

At this juncture, I would like to share some interesting stories on some of the grant recipients that generated positive results on the grant assistance initiative:

i. Mrs. Lusiana Ucakereilagi of Lautoka was assisted with $1,000 to expand her handicraft business. This has further improved her business which was realized through the increase in the number of sales from $70 to $100 a day.

ii. Ms. Sainimere Niasa of Suvavou Village was assisted with $1,000 to start – up her canteen business. The grant assistance has allowed her to purchase the needed stock that allows her to generate a profit of $100 per week. This has further contributed to improved standard of living for her family.

iii. Mr. Vilakesa Kalou of Korovou, Tailevu was provided with $859.42 for her farming business. With the additional boost of farming implements, he now has extended his farming business. He is currently planting dalo and other root crops and vegetable produce and has experienced increase in earnings from $100 to $150 per week.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The success stories highlighted are to encourage you to work smart and be innovative in your various business ventures and take advantage of business opportunities that are available. One good example is the opportunity presented through the introduction of the plastic bag levy, which those of you engaged in the tailoring businesses may take advantage of, by sewing eco-friendly shopping bags to substitute plastic shopping bags.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The Fijian Government has placed its trust in you that you will put into proper use the investment that has been made into your various business ventures with the hope that we will all work towards the common goal of making Fiji’s MSME sector the engine of Economic Growth.

I wish you well in your business ventures.

Vinaka Vakalevu. Thank You.

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