Konnichiwa! Team SPBD gathered for their annual team building workshop at the stunning Yadua Bay Resort in Sigatoka from 4-6 August, 2023. It was attended by all employees, including interns from all nine SPBD branches in Suva, Sigatoka, Savusavu, Rakiraki, Levuka, Taveuni, Nabouwalu, Labasa and Lautoka. They were organised into five teams: Kuro (Black), Samurai (Blue), Chimu Kiiro (Yellow), Chimugurin (Green) and Chimureddo (Red).
Team Kuro was the overall winner after teams were judged on their team participation, attendance, team banner, ikigai presentation, food catering, ikebana, haiku, origami, Japanese dance presentation, kimono and team t-shirt. The first runner up was blue team followed by yellow, green and red. It was a great team bonding exercise with fun, sweat and participation.
This year’s host – Sigatoka branch, an all-male team – cooked and served a delicious seafood dinner on the first night. The seafood – octopus, crabs, prawns, nama, vakasakera and fish – were all bought from SPBD members from Yadua Centre. SPBD Fiji Director, Lorraine Seeto said: “This workshop is one of the few times that we get together as one team and get to know one another better. If you know one another, the work flows better. You put a voice and a face to that email and mobile call, and it just breaks down a lot of barriers and improves the effectiveness and efficiency of the workplace.”
Team SPBD shared meaningful discussions about their work across Fiji. Out of the nine branches, Lautoka branch was found to be the best performing branch so far. “Opening new centres was easier when SPBD first began in 2010 as SPBD was brand new,” Usaia Bogirua, Centre Manager, SPBD Lautoka branch, told participants. “We have faced many challenges over the course of 13 years and I believe we should work according to the policy announcements by the government. We should work together to open new centres. In order to grow our centres, we have to do proper marketing. It’s in the training manual. The more members, the faster they grow in terms of portfolio and their savings.”
Early morning stretches at 5.30am on Saturday and Sunday were integral. Team SPBD was led by Canadian-Filipino fitness trainer, Edsel Segovia, who offered a more holistic approach to fitness. “Not everyone loves to exercise so I just incorporate many strategies to get people motivated,” Segovia said. “The exercises shown by Edsel helped me understand that we can still do our work and do these simple exercises. I see this as one of the most important activities at this team building,” said Jaynendra Raj, SPBD Acting Operations Manager. Sunday morning devotion was led by staff member, Pastor Tupou Talala to ensure that all aspects of Team SPBD’s lives were integrated in this team building programme.
Staying true to the theme, ‘Integrating your life’s purpose with your journey at SPBD: The Ikigai Way’, Team SPBD, through presentations and haiku (poems), expressed the essence of Ikigai, a Japanese concept that means ‘something worth living for’. “Most of us weren’t aware of Ikigai, but when we do our research and try to understand it, it helps us in our journey of self-discovery and self-reflection,” said Joana Adikoca, SPBD Membership Support Services Officer. Other team bonding activities included dance items in theme kimonos, making origami and ikebana, drinking matcha tea and eating sushi. Some even learned to use chopsticks for the first time. “It is my hope that Team SPBD will be able to incorporate Ikigai in their daily lives, that means being happy in doing what you love, in what you’re good at, in what the world needs and in what you can be paid for. I hope that working with SPBD fulfils those elements,” SPBD Fiji General Manager, Elrico Munoz emphasised.
The Success behind SPBD’s Lautoka branch
Nadi, Lautoka and Ba are some of Fiji’s bustling spots for tourism, and microfinance company, South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) has helped build and maintain thriving women-owned businesses in these areas. Rohit Goundan, Team Leader for SPBD’s Lautoka Branch explains the success behind the branch’s performance in the first half of 2023.
Please explain the structure of SPBD’s Lautoka Branch.
There are 55 centres that come under the SPBD Lautoka Branch. These centres are located in the Nadi-Lautoka-Ba areas. At the branch, we have four Centre Managers: Esekaia Koroivaibau, Jonetani Nawaikamakama, Usaia Bogirua and me; and we have one Branch Finance Administration Assistant, Naomi Kuli.
What training has been done at SPBD’s Lautoka Branch?
In July, we had a three-day training for our Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). It was facilitated in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, SMEs and Communications (MTCSMEC), and Aslam Khan was the trainer. Financial Education Facilitators (FEFs) from 30 SPBD centres in the Nadi-Lautoka-Ba areas attended. Most of these centre members are dairy farmers, market vendors, canteen owners, caterers, as well as tailors. They also sell kava, food packs, pastry, fish and other seafood.
The outcomes were really good. We visited the members at their respective centres after the training and they said that the training was very informative. They have understood the ways of doing business and making it successful. In the past, they would run their businesses with limited knowledge and support, but since that training, they have discussed and shared with other centre members the important knowledge and skills they were taught such as business registration, cash flow statement and bookkeeping.
At the recent SPBD team building event in Sigatoka, SPBD’s Lautoka Branch was found to be the best performing branch so far. How did the branch reach this achievement?
The first six months of this year was challenging as we achieved 70% of our targets, but we managed to help our members with the benefits provided by the SPBD programme. We talked with our centre members and assisted them to get small loans for their businesses. For two years, most of their businesses were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From last year, we helped them obtain small loans and encouraged them to start small businesses. As time went by, members managed to upgrade their businesses with higher amounts of loans and achieve profits.
Who are some best performing centre members that are part of SPBD’s Lautoka Branch?
We have got a good number of centre members with businesses that are performing very well. Some of these members are Makelesi Naulu Satala and Ilisapeci Cilavisiga from Namoli Vou Centre. Makelesi runs a catering business while Ilisapeci sells food packs and kava to earn her living and is looking to start a handicraft business as well. Other high performing members are based at Tomuka Centre and Nakavu
Centre. Miriama Degei from Nakavu Centre who runs multiple businesses, helped SPBD reach its US$250 million loan disbursement milestone in July this year.
For the upcoming SPBD awards, we have nominated two centres who are part of SPBD’s Lautoka Branch. Nakavika Centre in Ba has been nominated for two awards (Best Centre and Best Centre Chief – Mere Leba Caginitoba) and Nakavu Centre in Nadi has been nominated for two awards (Best Centre
and Best Saver – Ananaiasa Naucukidi).
It’s also important to mention that we’ve opened some new centres in Votua, Nasolo, Nailaga, Navau, Maururu, Joritani, Namoli, Namotomoto, Yavusania, Namulomulo, Naviyago, Nawakalevu, Kerebula, Emua, Natalau, Nabare, Korobebe and Nakurakura. They are performing well in their savings, centre funds and group funds and in their individual businesses. They are making payments on time, every week. All 55 centres that are part of the Lautoka Branch are doing really well in their and savings.
Please explain your role as team leader and what motivates you to perform your role?
This is my first experience as a team leader and for SPBD’s Lautoka Branch — and as with every organisation, there are targets to achieve. I look after four staff members while working with them to achieve our targets [among other responsibilities] which can be quite challenging. The support I get from my family motivates me to perform my role. I have an excellent team and we work well together, which is a great source of support for me and overall, it enhances the team dynamics and creates a highly positive atmosphere for achieving our goals.
Judging begins for 2022 SPBD Businesswoman of the Year Awards
Judging is underway for the 2022 SPBD Businesswoman of the Year Awards. There are eight categories being judged this year and the finalists are:
Businesswoman of the Year
Merelesita Naimawi (Nasevou, Lami)
Tailasa Koroi (Sinukakala Tovata)
Kartika Raman (Valelevu Sisters)
Teresia Rosi (Uciwai, Momi)
Milika Rokomada (Naitaqiri)
Centre of the Year
- Naitaqiri Centre (Suva)
- Nakavika Centre (Lautoka)
- Nakavu (Lautoka)
Centre Chief of the Year
- Tilaila Tanumi (Sinukakala Tovata)
- Mere Leba Caginitoba (Nakavika)
- Luisiana Valetabua (Serua Island)
Centre Secretary of the Year
- Menani Delana (Seniuci/Deuba)
- Milika Levukana (Lakena)
- Mereseini Vakatalai (Tacirua)
Individual Saver of the Year
- Kartika Raman (Valelevu Sisters)
- Milika Rokomada (Naitaqiri)
- Ananaiasa Naucukidi (Nakavu, Lautoka)
Centre Saver of the Year
- Suva Market Vendors
Financial Education Facilitator of the Year
- Viniana Loloyavura (Valelevu Sisters)
- Lalai Vugakoto (Northland Korovou)
- Kalara Cibaiwatui (Navaradavesi)
New Centre of the Year
- Navitilevu (Rakiraki)
- Navaradavesi (Taveuni)
- Qarasarau (Sigatoka)
The judging is done onsite and commenced on 22 August. The winners of this year’s awards will be announced on 29 September at the Vodafone Arena, Suva.
The SPBD Businesswoman of the Year Awards Chief Judge is Lorraine Seeto, who is a Director on the SPBD Fiji Board. She is joined by Titilia Kamil who is General Manager – Relationship and Sales at the Fiji Development Bank, Jyoti Maharaj who is Founder and CEO of Jody’s, Vishala Raman who is Head of Customer Care at Vodafone, and Samantha Magick who is the Managing Editor of Islands Business magazine.