Recipient acknowledges Government grant



IN the vibrant town of Nausori, Kalesi Baleula, a skilled artisan renowned for her ability to craft exquisite freshwater pearl necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, has successfully translated her passion into a thriving enterprise. 

What started as a simple hobby has blossomed into a prosperous venture. 

With the support of her loving family, Ms Baleula not only excels as an artist but also serves as an inspiration for women who wish to turn their passions into a successful business. 

Initially engaged in crafting items like pillowcases, crochet bedspreads and table covers she extended her skills to fulfilling orders on a personalised scale. 

However, upon discovering the art of pearl jewellerymaking, she decided to shift her focus entirely. 

“I used to cater to orders for crafted items, but after venturing into pearl jewellery, I had to let go of my previous business and concentrate more on this one. Whilst the business does have its slow periods, passion makes overcoming challenges possible.” 

“I have custom-made orders and the response from my customers has been overwhelming and to see your handiwork being worn by prominent people is so satisfying. Thesev wins a little for us because indirectly we are contributing to their appearance.” 

“Deliveries are done within Nausori and Suva area but normally I post their orders. It can be challenging at times but I’m thankful that with what I earn I’m able to support my family.” 

Ms Baleula encourages women to pursue their chosen business paths, expressing her plans to secure a dedicated space in Nausori for her enterprise. 

Despite being 65 years old, she emphasises that age should not deter anyone from pursuing their dreams. 
Dealing with specific design requests from customers, she navigates challenges in the supply chain by suggesting alternative designs when necessary. 

Ms Baleula acknowledges occasional supply chain hurdles but emphasises the importance of seizing opportunities as and when it presents itself. 

Some MSMEs were assisted by the Government under the Trade Enhancement Programme, including Kalesi. 

This initiative supports businesses in the micro category that need capital injection to grow their businesses. 

The entire TEP process is digital, meaning applying and uploading their documents on the application portal. 

Since inception in 2022, the TEP portal has received 4,170 applications online out of which 71 per cent were women applicants. 

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Cooperatives, Small, Medium, and Business Enterprises, Manoa Kamikamica, highlighted the Government’s commitment to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), citing an investment of over $100 million. 

This commitment has resulted in documented success across three key programs, providing both economic growth and employment opportunities. 

DPM Kamikamica acknowledges existing achievements while expressing the ongoing commitment to enhance the MSME landscape. 

Government initiatives include integrating MSME networks and ecosystems, streamlining business processes, improving regulations, enhancing access to information, reducing financing gaps, and fortifying business development services. 

Looking ahead, the Government aims to formulate a comprehensive national MSME Strategic Plan, focusing on strengthening various aspects of the sector. 

In a show of continued support, the Government has allocated nearly $280,000 in grants to a group of entrepreneurs, reinforcing its commitment to nurturing innovative concepts and transforming them into sustainable businesses.