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Capacity building

Fiji Export Council
Friday, April 21, 2017

THE globalisation of business, including the recent wave of global industrial restructuring, has increasingly drawn SMEs, especially those in sectors subject to strong globalisation forces to undergo relevant capacity building programs for their businesses to meet market demands and retain current markets.

To keep up with the rapidly evolving technology and ever changing market trends, it is essential for local business houses to be regularly trained and equipped with the required skill sets to be competitive domestically and internationally.

While the bigger companies with deeper pockets might find it easier to do these, it may not be the case for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) according to the Fiji Export Council (FEC).

"The overwhelming majority of SMEs in Fiji are micro enterprises with fewer than ten employees made up of farmers, fishermen, loggers, and small clothing and handicraft workshops," said Jone Cavubati, CEO of the council.

"The cost of training can be seen as a deterrent and as a result it is pushed lower down in their list of priorities.

"The training programs the FEC host for our members is also open to non-members and is absolutely ideal for those who want their organisations to benefit from the program without putting a large dent in the budget," he said.

Some 285 SMEs exported in 2016, but Mr Cavubati stressed that this was only a small fraction of the number who are not yet "export ready" that are established in Fiji.

These small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners will have to make a decision that has a big impact on their business at some point.

It could be anything from a funding decision that means relinquishing control of the company, to the launch of a new product that fundamentally changes the business model to making that step and looking for foreign export markets.

Two of the most popular questions we receive on a weekly basis are How Do I Export? And Am I Ready to Export?

The council hosts several workshops throughout the year targeting SMEs.

These workshops are tailormade for small business owners to familiarise themselves with information that could be useful for them to improve their productivity, standards and marketability.

The "Path to Market" workshop for example scheduled for May 18 in Nadi and May 19 in Suva has been an ongoing program whereby four participants in the one-day workshop will be selected by the FEC to represent Fiji to attend the six-day trade mission in Auckland in March 2018.

This workshop with the Pacific Island Trade & Invest is aimed at building SME capability by directing them on how to start exporting or how to enhance their current exporting activities.

The work is the first step in a 12-month program put in place to prepare SMEs before the actual trade mission.

The workshop will have three foreign consultants arriving for the two-day seminar which would cover the following topics:

* What are the attributes of a successful export company;

* What are the attributes of a successful export product;

* What do you need to know about your customer;

* Understanding the NZ market size, consumers, segments;

* Understanding requirements for market access including optimising the supply chain;

* How to understand product costing, setting the selling price and maximising profitability;

* Tips on how to effectively sell your products;

* How to select a buyer and manage the relationship; and

* Basics of business planning.

Mr Cavubati encourages all enterprises who are interested in exporting to attend this workshop and other programs organised by the council.

The council encourages SMEs to attend the Path to Market workshop by contacting

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