The Australia Government’s largest private-sector development aid program in Fiji, the Market Development Facility (MDF), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Fiji’s largest private sector association, Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation (FCEF). The announcement was made during the 2018 TOPEX dinner event at the Sofitel Resort and Spa on Denarau and included the Australian High Commissioner, John Feakes, FCEF CEO, Nesbitt Hazelman and MDF Country Director, Mujaddid Mohsin.
In his remarks, Mr Feakes said, “Fiji has an impressive record of inclusive economic growth, and a key priority of Australia’s aid program to Fiji is to support that trend to continue, and supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to that agenda. I wish to congratulate the businesses that participated in the small pilot program, and I wish FCEF and MDF every success as they look to replicate and scale up the model for more businesses.”
The MOU between MDF and FCEF now facilitates future collaboration between the two agencies on development of sustainable business support services for FCEF members, in particular MSMEs in their Young Entrepreneurs Council and Women Entrepreneurs Business Council.
FCEF CEO, Nesbit Hazelman, said “FCEF recognizes the role and contributions of Women and Young Entrepreneurs especially in the informal sector and how this translates to employment, National GDP and the enhancement of the communities at grass root levels.”
“This MOU further establishes the initiative by FCEF since 2013 to develop and pave the way for women and young entrepreneurs through the formation of the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) and the Young Entrepreneurs Council (YEC).”
“The partnership between MDF and FCEF through this MOU will create a way forward in not only up skilling our young entrepreneurs and women through the business model being created but also strengthens the local mentors that have been selected and trained through the program.”
“FCEF is excited to be selected and to be on board with this new partnership and we know that outcomes will come in multiple folds at all level of development cutting across sectors and industries”
The MOU signing was followed by the graduation ceremony for the MSMEs involved in the MDF Fiji Enterprise Engine (M-FEE) pilot program which started in November 2016. The M-FEE program involved eight MSMEs from different private sector associations around Fiji. As part of the pilot, these businesses receive a suite of business training, coaching and mentoring which allowed them to effectively grow their businesses. The success and learning from the M-FEE pilot will be taken forward under the new MOU between MDF and FCEF,
MDF Fiji Director, Mujaddid Mohsin, said with the right support, businesses can transition and grow. “We piloted the MFEE program for the last one and half years and have seen positive returns from the businesses in the program,” Mohsin said.
“Under challenging circumstances, these 8 businesses have generated over FJD450,000 in sales and continue to grow and take their businesses to the next level,” he continued.
“FCEF will now be the scale agent to replicate this success and grow other businesses that are members of the federation,” Mohsin added.
The MSMEs that participated in the M-FEE pilot program are:
- Allied Print Designs – Custom designers of garments and signage
- Aswhy Enterprises – Mahogany crotch legs export
- International Resort Supplies – Sources handicrafts from outer islands, produces and sells organic saps, supplies fresh vegetables
- Niu Venture Creations – Supplies timber – rough sawn and profiled timber
- Rusiate Charcoal Supplies – Produces and sells charcoal to the local market
- Samson Lee Design – Emerging fashion designer. Designs and supplies resort wear, bridal wear and accessories
- The Mushroom Garden – Start-up mushroom business (growing and selling mushrooms)
- Vou Dance (Fiji) Limited – Entertainment Services
Market Development Facility Fiji Enterprise Engine (MDF FEE)
MDF developed a pilot business incubation system in 2016 to provide a more effective way of supporting MSMEs through an outcome and deliverable oriented system that enabled businesses to focus on growing their business, developing business skills and internal processes, to work towards a sustainable and scalable business model that improves their chances of success in the Fijian economy and even in the region.
Eight SMEs from the tourism, horticulture and export processing sectors participated in the pilot phase. MDF worked in close consultation with the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF) and the Fiji Export Council (FEC), to select the ten MSMEs for the pilot.
Market Development Facility (MDF)
The Market Development Facility (MDF) is a multi-country private sector development program funded by the Australian Government, operating in Fiji, Timor-Leste, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea. MDF partners with a range of businesses in Fiji to stimulate investment, business innovation and regulatory reform to benefit people involved in Fiji’s tourism, export processing and horticulture industries, particularly the poor. In Fiji, MDF-supported activities will create approximately 689 jobs and increase incomes for 16,500 people until 2012.