SME financing consultation addresses barriers in Fiji

February 9, 2024 3:55 pm

The SME sector in the Pacific is growing and contributes significantly to national and regional economies, yet entrepreneurs face barriers to accessing traditional finance to start, grow, and sustain their businesses.

The Ministry of SMEs held the first public consultation at the flea market today to gather feedback and concerns from the public, especially business owners.

Director of MSME Fiji, Faizal Khan, highlights that the new bill aims to help SMEs in Fiji access funding when traditional banks are not an option.

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“So basically, it aims to appeal to any business to be honest, but we know in Fiji the engine room or majority of the business is SMEs and globally it’s a known fact that the main challenge for MSMEs or any businesses is to access finance, therefore this bill or this policy legislation aims to target those businesses who are not able to access finance through the commercial bank or development banks so that’s why it’s called Alternative Form of Financing”.

Khan highlights that public consultation will allow them to hear the perspectives of the public and business owners.

“What we have in front of you is a draft bill, so based on the consultation we will go back and listen to the feedback we receive, we’ll go back with the consultants which is ADB and the Reserve Bank and the wing committee we’ll go back and relook at the comments, relook at what needs to be changed in the bill then we will take it to cabinet”.

Businessman Seleni Vuetaki shares that through consultations like this, entrepreneurs can voice their business problems and concerns.

“The commercial banks have their own policy and we won’t be able to do anything about it however consultations like this will be able to help us understand and share the problems we face in our businesses”.

This public consultation held by the Ministry of Trade, Cooperatives, and SMEs marks a crucial step towards addressing the financing challenges SMEs face in Fiji.

The working group will be visiting the rest of Fiji in the coming weeks.