The first and only Business Accelerator Program for micro-entrepreneurs in Fiji has successfully graduated nine businesswomen in a simple ceremony on 6th November 2020.
This intensive six-month program, which combines formal training sessions with onsite business coaching, is part of the Fiji Bloom Program which was launched by SPBD Microfinance (Fiji) Pte Ltd in November 2019.
The Fiji Bloom Program has three components, namely:
1. Business Formalisation – this is intended to assist the informal business sector to become part of the formal economy by registering their businesses with the Register of Companies and Fiji Revenue & Customs Service and by obtaining the necessary business licenses.
2. Business Development Services – the micro-entrepreneurs are linked to existing reputable business development services providers and SME Preparation Workshops to help them prepare strategies for their growth.
3. Business Acceleration Program – aimed at guiding the entrepreneurs to successfully face the challenges of their growing businesses.
The key partner of this Fiji Bloom Program is the Financial Counsellors Association of Fiji (FMCAF), which provided SPBD Fiji with the quality and dedicated trainers and business coaches for the participants.
Hours before their graduation these graduates had to present and defend their growth strategies to a Panel of Judges headed by Ms. Lorraine Seeto and assisted by Mrs. Api Korosiga (Lapita Investments) and Mr. Semi Bilitaki (USP Career Centre and Services).
Mrs. Mereamo Lalakobatiki (Dreu na Leba Investments) of Ucunivanua Village, who operates a canteen, catering, fish trading and taxi business, was awarded the top prize by the Panel of Judges.
The other graduates are: Mrs. Vani Vakacegu, Mrs. Merewalesi Muaniwaqa, Mrs. Ulamila Bera, Mrs Milika Rokomada, Mrs. Susana Rolewatu, Mrs. Vasemaca Aditukana, Mrs. Viniana Loloyavura and Mrs. Mareta Koro.
The South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) network was founded by Mr. Gregory Casagrande to provide meaningful opportunities for women in the South Pacific to empower themselves through micro-enterprise development. Beginning in Samoa in 2000, SPBD has expanded to other countries: Tonga (2009), Fiji (2010), Solomon Islands (2012) and Vanuatu (2017).
Celebrating its first decade of operations this year, SPBD Fiji has provided inclusive financial services to more than 400 villages involving more than 9,000 women, particularly in the rural areas.