Fiji Time: 6:06 PM on Tuesday 23 January

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Youth entrepreneurs

Filipe Naigulevu
Saturday, January 13, 2018

ENTREPRENEURSHIP seems to be among the buzz words in our national scene with efforts from Government and various stakeholders to foster an enterprising culture in Fiji.

And while Government has spearheaded this move with several initiatives, a greater focus has been placed on Fijian youths with the introduction Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES).

The scheme, which was launched in Suva on Thursday, is an initiative which provides grants of up to a maximum of $20,000 to young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18-30.

Launching the scheme, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said Government wanted young people to think outside the box and make Fiji a hub of innovation for the Pacific and the world.

"We want our young people to do more than sit at the same desks in the same offices that we use today," he said.

"We want them to be leaders in business, civil society and government, putting their ideas at the forefront of Fiji's development, with their entrepreneurial spirit carrying our nation into the future."

The first round of statistics released earlier this week from the 2017 Population and Housing Census revealed that half of Fiji's population is below the age of 27 and a half and 69 per cent of Fijians are below the age of 40.

"What that means is that we are a very young nation. That can be an enormous advantage, but if — and only if — we give our young people the support and resources they need to grow into productive, educated and ambitious Fijians," Mr Bainimarama said.

"We have to light a fire in the hearts and minds of young Fijians — instilling them with a great belief in themselves, and in the potential of this nation."

A budget of $2 million has been allocated for the Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) in the 2017/2018 National Budget.

The primary objective of YES is to provide immediate assistance in the form of grants to young and budding entrepreneurs who have innovative and bankable ideas/projects which financial institutions are not willing to support because of lack of collateral.

This will partly address the market failure where financial institutions are reluctant to provide start-up capital to young entrepreneurs.

Successful young aspiring entrepreneurs will then be provided business training and mentorship to enable them to operate financially viable businesses.

Meanwhile, the launch also saw the unveiling of the new YES logo and recognised the ingenuity of five young men and women who were the first lot of selected applicants under YES.

The five are: Sandhiya Goundar; Rovil Kumar; Atunaisa Rainima; Siwan Narayan and Vincent Padiachy.

The applicants, who have completed the first phase of the scheme, were selected by the YES judging panel made up of a mix of public and private sector individuals.

This is after demonstrating their business proposals and innovative ideas which are not only viable enough to rake in profit but create jobs and sustainable livelihoods for others.

"That is what the YES initiative is all about. At the heart of this program is a profound belief in the unique perspective brought by young Fijians and in their understanding of what our marketplace needs, both now and in the years ahead," Mr Bainimarama said.

"It is about giving life to the ideas of smart and ambitious young people and to shake up Fijian society with their dreams for what is possible."

The five recipients had begun the program of mentorship through the YES initiative which will continue over the next month.

Afterwards, they will all be eligible to receive grant funding of up to $20,000 to pursue their business ideas.

The YES initiative is being administered by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism.

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