Press release

ILO supports micro, small and medium enterprises leverage reopening of borders in Fiji

With Fiji’s international borders opening up to tourists this week and hundreds of businesses around the country having safely resumed operations, there has been a high demand for Business Development Services by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMSEs)

Press release | Suva, Fiji | 29 November 2021
ILO is engaged with a host of public and private entities to support MSMEs in Fiji.
The ILO Office for Pacific Island Countries has finalised a lineup of innovative partnerships with specialised providers, as it moves to support the Fijian government to meet the demand of MSMEs looking to leverage a post-lockdown economy boom. The ILO has engaged a host of public and private entities including the Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE), Greenhouse Coworking and Vou Fiji to deliver a series of on-line and face-to-face business trainings, advisory and mentoring services to COVID-19-affected MSMEs. Two specifically affected sectors are being targeted - the creative and agriculture industries.

“This strategy of building the capacities of local Business Development providers to then support the MSME’s is a more inclusive and sustainable approach’, said Mr Matin Karimli the ILO Director for Pacific Island Countries. Mr Karimli added that ILO’s immediate focus is on responding to what the MSME market currently needs to help it recover on the back of international borders re-opening.

The ILO, through the United Nations Informal Economies Recovery Project, had earlier this year, provided a comprehensive training package to businesses such as Vou Fiji and Greenhouse Coworking. This included aspects such as Enterprise Development and Business Continuity Planning. Technical assistance was also extended to government-led entities such as MSME Fiji and iTaukei Trust Fund Board.

Ms Ronna Pastorizo-Sekiguchi is the Founder of Greenhouse Coworking. “I found the Business Continuity Planning training very useful, particularly in the context of COVID-19 and cyclones. Greenhouse Coworking is now more equipped to provide this training to MSMEs to help them reduce risks of such disruptions to their businesses’, said Ms Pastorizo-Sekiguchi. She further added that UN partners supporting businesses like hers to reach out to more MSMEs is very timely and necessary.

The prolonged impact of necessary COVID-19 lockdowns has resulted in severe cash-flow challenges for MSMEs, particularly those in the informal sector; those linked to the tourism industry; and those located within the containment zones over the last few months. The re-starting of international tourism provides a window of opportunity to start - albeit cautiously - the journey to recover income losses.

“These business trainings, advisory and mentoring services will complement the technical trainings that the artists and creative business owners have received”, said Ms Sachiko Soro, the Nadi based owner and founder of Vou Fiji. The technical training was supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and focused on the most impacted dance and visual arts sub sectors, that experienced a complete halt in revenue over the 2020-2021 period.

The Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE) - a business accelerator programme under the Fiji Commerce & Employers Federation [FCEF] - will be targeting youths in the Agri-Rugby Programme of the Fiji Rugby Academy. “We are able to add value in this space by drawing from expertise within the membership of FCEF, such as experienced entrepreneurs and business owners that can provide technical inputs to support our youth beneficiaries”, said Mr Savenca Baro the Business Accelerator Manager for FEE.

The UN Joint Informal Economies Recovery Project is funded by the UN Multi Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) and implemented in Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Palau. The objective of the project is to build the technical and business skills of targeted enterprises so they are able to sustainably bounce back faster when borders open and the business environment stabilises.