WHEN a civil servant, a cleaner and a grass cutter decided to start a business some 40 years ago, they probably never envisaged to be millionaires.
But they did and Sun Insurance is today a testament of how that small business grew.
In its eighth year of holding the small business awards (SBA), the Fiji Development Bank has chosen the theme 'Building Fiji through Enterprise' to reflect the efforts of the government in spurring locals to take on the challenge and become entrepreneurs through investment.
"And like many great things, we all have to start somewhere and small businesses form the building blocks from which many big businesses today found their humble beginnings," Sugar permanent secretary, Manasa Vaniqi said while launching the awards.
"Over the last 43 years, the Fiji Development Bank has worked tirelessly to inspire locals to aspire for a better life by engaging in the development of micro, small and medium enterprises — commonly referred to as SSMEs.
"Over the years, we have seen a number of locally owned business grow through the assistance of FDB — companies like Fiji Television Ltd, the Unit Trust of Fiji and the then Suva Stock Exchange which is now the South Pacific Stock Exchange.
"The bank has also given a start to or helped with the expansion of a number of family owned businesses that are now household names — Vinod Patel, Joes Farm, Punjas, Rups, Star Printery, Dee Cees buses and Foods Pacific are but a few."
Mr Vaniqi said awards such as the SBA promoted small enterprise development because it took the stigma of insignificance away from such enterprises.
"People often frown and look down on the food vendor who sells door to door or the grass cutter who walks from house to house looking for an opportunity to earn some money," he said.
"Without such enterprising people, unemployment would be much higher and affordable goods and services would be negligible.
"Through such awards, we give these hardworking, mostly self employed people due recognition because they have taken the much harder option of working for themselves rather than someone else.
"These small businesses also support a supply chain for processors and manufacturers. Without the farmer in the field, there would be no dalo or cassava to peel for packaging and export. Without the village craftsman, there would be no handicraft to sell at the curio markets and handicraft centres by the middleman or exported at extraordinary prices to collectors abroad.
"Small business with the right support and adequate financing can also move on from just producing raw materials or basic goods to value-adding so that their product fetches a higher price.
"Similarly, with service-based small business, a small cash injection can go a long way in upskilling ad resourcing the business so that it can demand a better return."