Twenty-seven micro, small and medium enterprises in Fiji have been awarded US$350,000 in grants to further develop their businesses sustainably.
They are part of the Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator and Accelerator Programs, which are initiatives of the Pacific Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN), a program implemented by Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and funded by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD).
Speaking at the Pacific greenpreneurs graduation for the Fiji cohort in Suva yesterday, Al-Jazi Al-Hanzab, a QFFD representative, told graduates: “Your success today is a testament to the proven determination to address our planet’s pressing challenges. I urge you to continue with the same passion and dedication that brought you here. Embrace the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for it is in overcoming them that you will truly make a difference.”
Fiji’s Assistant Minister for Finance and chief guest, Esrom Immanuel, reiterated: “We also celebrate the shared vision and commitment of the GGGI and the Fiji Government in nurturing green entrepreneurs. Your innovative solutions and sustainable business models are key to addressing climate change and driving economic growth in an environmentally responsible manner.”
The graduation ceremony honoured the achievements of the 15 incubator and 12 accelerator graduates for 2023, who successfully completed their respective programs and received certificates in recognition of their hard work. These green entrepreneurs focus on agriculture, manufacturing & handicrafts, sustainable tourism and transport, circular economy, and information technology.
Daniel Muñoz-Smith, GGGI Country Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu, expressed his appreciation, saying: “These green entrepreneurs are not just business leaders; they are visionaries and catalysts for change, holding the keys to unlock a transition to a greener and more sustainable future for Fiji and the Pacific.”
The event also featured the announcement of winners for the Business Plan competition. Six greenpreneurs from the Incubator program were awarded US$5,000 (approximately FJ$11,250) each in recognition of their innovative business model and plans that align with the sustainable development goals.
Marama Niu, a local coconut ice-cream company that sources its pure nectar from communities on the islands of Rabi and Kioa, was one of the Business Plan competition winners. Co-founder and Director, Kylie Daunoco, said: “Since our inception, we’ve seen a steady growth in sales. We’ve grown from strength to strength by increasing suppliers and revitalising traditional knowledge that was, more or less, dying.”
Daunoco said the seed grant will be used to purchase freezers and improve the company’s packaging. “We would like to compete with the likes of other plant-based imported products. We just need to look the part,” she said.
For the first time, selected Accelerator graduates received a significant boost through interest-free repayable grants, with nine green enterprises being awarded funds of between US$30,000 to $50,000 each (approximately FJ$68,500 to $112,500).
Anita Karan, founder of Hydro-Greens, an urban smart farm business based in Nasinu, was awarded a repayable grant of US$30,000. She shared: “We not only enhance our businesses for the benefit of our families but also create employment opportunities for others in our communities.”
Karan said teaching people, especially school dropouts, has been a central component of her venture. “In collaboration with Dialogue Fiji, we have trained and empowered over 300 farmers across the nation in hydroponic farming,” she said.
“This collaborative effort has contributed to the broader goal of sustainable farming methods that address the challenges posed by a changing climate,” she added.
With the new grant, Hydro-Greens intends to expand their business to Nausori, Karan said.