Head of Training for School of Tourism, Hospitality, Fashion and Travel in National Training and Productivity Centre, Dr Akash Gupta,
Guest Speakers,
Team from Fiji Fashion Week, 
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

It’s always a pleasure meeting the faces behind some of Fiji’s finest art. For those of you who may know me, you’ll know I make it a point to be involved in the creative art sector. But while it’s a joy to attend fashion shows – what the Ministry and I want to support more, is the process leading up.
Our collaboration in this series of business training is to nurture, train and guide you. We also want to bring more opportunities for collaboration to promote sustainable growth in the industry.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a common goal -- to establish businesses, to grow talent, to create brand identity and to contribute to the Fijian economy. While we may not have the creative foresight of designing and the skills to sew, the Fijian Government can support you in enhancing your business acumen.

We are appreciative of our partnership with the Fiji Fashion Week to equip the entrepreneurs in the growing Fijian fashion industry. Although this may be the first, this definitely won’t be the last.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
That is why we’ve established a dedicated Unit, solely for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). MSME Fiji’s primary role is to provide business hand-holding services to MSMEs to unlock barriers that create a more enabling business environment.
As I mentioned in Parliament this week, the Fijian Government's priority is to raise the productivity of MSMEs and to do so by investing in capabilities we need for the future.
One of our most recent initiatives is the Trade Enhancement Programme which provides support to those with a special trade. It is pleasing to note that of the 1,808 applications received, 67 percent were enthusiastic women entrepreneurs. This in fact is an investment.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In this budget, the Fijian Government released a specific product solely for women entrepreneurs. This allocation of $1 million is dedicated for Fiji Development Bank to support women entrepreneurs in realising their visionary business ideas.
Apart from providing a series of business training on business costing, cash flow and marketing plan, the team would have taken you through the ‘Fijian Made - Buy Fijian’ Brand – a national brand that businesses like you can leverage. You would have also heard of the Co-operatives business model Awareness, Ladies and Gentlemen.
With your creative talents that allure one’s attention, needs to be recognised and acknowledged that it is locally made - As policy makers, we recognise this.
With the establishment of the national brand, it gives your creative talent an added recognition when marketing your product in the domestic and international market. Till date, the Ministry has registered over 700 businesses and approximately 6,000 products were registered under the Brand.
With the emblem embedded onto your product, it represents your hard work and effort in achieving economic empowerment.  And I am sure we can all agree – that there’s a different sense of patriotism when you see local products overseas or even on TV. With commitment, partnership and a lot of national pride, we have the ability to produce world-class products and enhance the Fijian Made brand and what it represents.
I want to specially acknowledge and thank the Designers who applied for the Fijian Made brand. Today, we will be issuing Fijian Designed, Fijian Sewn and Fijian Crafted licences to 7 entrepreneurs.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have engaged guest speakers from the Young Entrepreneurship Council, Women Entrepreneurs & Business Council, Business Assistance Fiji.  These guest speakers will share their perspectives on what business is like. Their passion for what they do. How to make connections with the Council, and will offer their well-earned words of advice.
As entrepreneurs, these are essential to provide necessary guidance and skillsets.
Ms Wati Talavutu, the winner of the Prime Minister’s National Youth Awards Fashion Arts & Creativity, will share her story on the importance of formalising your business. Having a formal business structure will enable you to tap into Government support programmes. Ms Anabel Ali, the winner of the Community Champion category will engage with the designers on the importance of maintaining integrity and time management in their business.
Evidentially these components are crucial in building a resilient business.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
With these words, I hope training has set the foundation in improving your business in the days to come. I would like to say this again: you are all talented. And our role here is to help you to help yourselves.
Please continue to engage with us and keep networking amongst yourself.
Furthermore, with a Memorandum of Understanding signed with Fiji Fashion Week, we anticipate greater collaboration in the months to come.
Vinaka Vakalevu.