Grant for growth

THE micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector is one that has grown significantly over the years and government investment has allowed budding entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

One of the ways this has been done is through the distribution of grants for new and existing entrepreneurs. Last week Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama disbursed the cheques for over 300 people in Lautoka and Nadi.

The majority of those who have received the grants were women starting their own businesses.

Among them was 37-year-old Shabnam Begum. A resident of Mulomulo, Nadi, Ms Begum said she had been working as a market vendor for the past three years.

“I live with my family and this is our only source of income and I feel grateful that I have received this grant because I want to grow my business,” she said.

“I want to supply fruits and vegetables on a higher scale and I think this will be a good first step for me.”

She said women needed to get involved in setting up small businesses too as this would be beneficial for their families.

Another successful applicant Ramiza Khan said the grant would allow her to grow her vegetable farm.

“Presently I am farming on borrowed land and we plant all kinds of vegetables and supply them to the markets in Nadi and Namaka,” the 30-year-old said.

“This is what my husband and I do. All we have is farming and we are hoping to get our own plot of land by next year so we can continue with our farming venture.”

For 63-year-old Lusiana Ratuvuki, the successful grant application gave her an opportunity to start farming again.

“I have a 14-acre farm at Navatulevu in Nadi and the money I have received will help me purchase bullocks to farm,” the mother of two said.

“We used to do sugarcane farming when my husband was here but since his passing about a decade ago, we haven’t been doing much.

“Now, the Forestry Department is helping me to plant yasi and teak and I am looking forward to continuing with this venture.

“I think this is a good way to bring more women in the fold too because it is the women who can help out and make their businesses successful.”

She said her age did not deter her from starting work again as this was something she wanted to do.

“I want to leave something behind for my son and grandsons.”

Natabua, Lautoka, woman Peniana Maisea, 42, also received $1000 to start a canteen near her home.

“I am already experienced as I used to operate a shop on Vanua Levu a while back and this is a good opportunity for me to get back into business,” she said.

She said women also needed to step up and take advantage of opportunities presented to them.

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