Council plans to raise awareness on its work

Eseta Nadakuitavuki (far right) and fellow council members at the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) Trade Show in Suva. Picture: MONIKA SINGH

THE Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) is a council under the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) with the specific objective of ensuring that the interests of women in business are protected and to offer a voice for those women entrepreneurs in the informal sector.

Last weekend the WEBC held its first Entrepreneurs Trade Show and Convention, providing its members with an opportunity to showcase their products and services to the members of the public and bounce off ideas and learnings from each other.

Council chairperson Eseta Nadakuitavuki said with their mission statement women entrepreneurs invigorating the nation — they came up with the two-day program to assist members.

“This trade show is quite different from the other markets that we have such as the Westpac Fiji’s microfinance market in the sense that the primary focus of this event is to create awareness with the secondary purpose to sell whatever the members bring to the trade show,” she said.

According to Ms Nadakuitavuki the event worked out well for the members who were at the trade show on Saturday.

She said the Reserve Bank of Fiji had its set definition of micro to small medium enterprises and the council also used the same definition when categorizing businesses.

“When we talk about micro to small medium enterprise we go with the definition of the RBF whereby for the microfinance you have to have a turnover of up to $30,000 and you need to have a certain number of employees in your business.”

Ms Nadakuitavuki said women-led/owned enterprises also faced challenges however these challenges varied depending on the industries they represented.

However she said the most common challenge was that of access to credit followed by encouraging the women entrepreneurs to register their business so that they are able to transit from the informal sector to the formal sector.

Often women-led businesses prefer to remain in the informal sector because of the cost involved and the procedures involved in registering their business.

However Ms Nadakuitavuki said they were glad that through lobbying under FCEF with the government, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism had announced at the TOPEX meeting that reforms would be made to the business procedures to improve ease of doing business in Fiji.

According to Ms Nadakuitavuki effective from January 1, 2020 for micro enterprises that employ up to three staff members, will get 50 per cent concession on their business licence fees.

“To me that is a sign that there are some initiatives coming from the government to assist the micro entrepreneurs in terms of registering their business,” she said.

“Another purpose of this event is to encourage other women — if they are involved in any sort of income generating project, are making profit and need assistance in terms of capacity building, access to market, please do get in touch with the secretariat. The joining fee is only $50 and thereafter $54.50.

“We held the Entrepreneurs Convention on Sunday. We had members who came from the Western Division to be part of the trade show and so we used the opportunity to hold the convention which was a peer learning event.”

More Stories