BUSINESSWOMEN took the occasion by storm as five of them scooped the majority small business awards. This year's Fiji Development Bank Small Business Awards marked a milestone of achievements as more women were recognised for their efforts in contributing to the niche market.
"This is a phenomenal achievement not only for the women that have been rewarded so justly for their outstanding performance in small business, but also for women in business as a whole," FDB chief executive officer Deve Toganivalu said.
Women have always been the more credible of investment in matters of financing, he said. "A large part of that had to do with their ability to manage priorities and finances better," Mr Toganivalu said.
Empowering women economically brings with it the beginning of higher rates of economic growth, he said. The future financial status of children are more likely to reflect those of their mother, Mr Toganivalu said.
"This way, the benefits of current investments in human capital are more likely to be passed on to the future generations because women are successfully integrated into the growth process," he said.
There were 151 entries this year from Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Vatulele and Taveuni. The judging process involved a field visit to projects that were short—listed. There were seven categories where winners received a plaque, a certificate and $1500 as prize money. Short—listed entrants were also considered for the Best Business Practise and Special awards.
Winner of the Agriculture category—sponsored by Crest Chicken—was 70—year old sole trader live stock farmer Kamal Virendra Singh of Nakorovou in Bua. Mr Singh started his farm through loans he took from family and friends and operates in a field where there isn't much competition. However, he is considered a model farmer for his contribution to the Government's effort to reduce meat import. A pioneer farmer in large—scale sheep farming in the Northern Division, he has 120 sheep, 180 goats and 94 cattle.
The commendation award for this category was given to former canecutter Ashok Kumar of Barotu in Ba. Mr Kumar plants rice and okra. The Tourism category winner Amran Heather Yusuf provides 24—hour taxi services in Nadi, connecting the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups. Musician Arthur Philitoga won the commendation award for this category for their contribution—though entertainment at birthdays, weddings, private dinners and larger events—to the tourism sector. Joana Ugatea Tinai of Hannalei Handicrafts in Labasa scooped the Wholesale and Retail category. The commendation award for this category was given to Jainendra Kumar of Kava Supplies in Sigatoka.
Miliana Vadei of Pacific Harbour Health Care in Deuba won the Professional and Business Service category award for her health clinic which services even islands like Beqa and Yanuca. The establishment of her health clinic in 2009 has enabled residents to access medication without travelling to Navua or Suva.
Daniel Amitesh Chand, an upholster of Mild Too Wild Upholstery and Sounds of Suva won the commendation award for this category. Custom—made furniture makers Cove Furnishings of Pacific Harbour won the Manufacturing category award for their contribution to the high—end market. Owner Tulia Nacola is known for her artistic trait in turning drift wood and waste wood into pricey furniture pieces which are marketed online. The young entrepreneur is brilliant with restoration and alterations to furniture.
Jyoti Avinesh Chand and Raman Singh of Aniketh Investments in Nadi—manufacturers of ready packed peas, dhal and mixed peas, won the commendation award for this category.
The Best Business Practice award, won by Mereula Vuidravuwalu of Vuidravuwalu Enterprise in Ekubu Village in Vatulele, was in recognition of the ferry services her company provides for guests and islanders alike to and from Vatulele via Korolevu in Sigatoka.
Charles Jimmy McCay of Cegu Valley Farm in Tabia, Labasa won the FDB—sponsored Special Award for his efforts in the use of permaculture on their livestock and vegetable farm.