Australian Government impressed by MDFâ€™s private sector development initiatives
Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ms. Julie Bishop recently paid a visit to Fiji to reaffirm Australiaâ€™s commitment to build a more dynamic and mutual beneficial relationship with Fiji. During her visit, Ms. Bishop attended the Market Development Facilityâ€™s (MDF) exhibition on November 1st 2014 held at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva. She showed herself to be impressed by MDFâ€™s portfolio of private sector partnerships stimulating business innovation in Fiji and stated that this was â€œexactly the kind of initiative that Australian aid should be supportingâ€.
â€œI saw businesses to do with mud crab, tourism, Adi Chocolate I think they are going to be a huge hit in Australia particularly kava chocolatesâ€. And then a business where the acidic soil in Fiji is now being improved by the addition of lime. So simple but a great opportunity to make the soils more productive here and improve crop yield. So all these great entrepreneurial businesses just receive capital and we can leverage this. Because the private sector is where jobs are created, itâ€™s the private sector where the investment needs to madeâ€, Ms. Bishop added.
Bishop further said that she was impressed by the business partnerships being supported by MDF and announced that the Australian Government will continue to provide support to MDF with funding of AUD 8.8 million (FJD 14.7 million) to invest into private sector development for the next four (4) years.
MDF is a multi-country initiative that started operations in Fiji in 2011, in Timor-Leste in 2012 and in Pakistan in 2013. It is the Australian Governmentâ€™s flagship program engaging directly with the private sector to stimulate investment, business innovation and regulatory reform to create additional jobs and increase income for poor women and men in rural and urban areas in the Indo-Pacific region. MDFâ€™s work involves analysing the economy, identifying growth opportunities, searching for business partners and working with them based on their needs to turn those opportunities into reality.
Picture 1: Ms. Bishop announces the Australian Governmentâ€™s commitment towards Fiji
Picture 2: Dr Harald Bekkers addresses the invited guests at MDF's exhibition
Dr. Harald Bekkers, MDF Team Leader in his remarks at the exhibition mentioned that MDF in Fiji to date has leveraged AUD 1.8 million in private sector investment with AUD 1 million investment from MDF, in 21 active business partnerships across Fijiâ€™s tourism, horticulture and export processing sectors. He further added: â€œMDF is perhaps the only business development service in Fiji able to provide a tailor-made package of investment, technical assistance and business advice â€“ to trigger business innovation and sustainable, pro-poor growth.
MDFâ€™s exhibition showcased some of its initiatives with local partners including Standard Concrete Industries (Fijiâ€™s first local agriculture lime producer for farmers), Fiji Exporters Council (Fiji apex private sector export association), Crab Company of Fiji (Fijiâ€™s first commercial mud crab producer), Devesh and Bharos Farms (Fijiâ€™s largest nursery commercial operator), Essence of Fiji (Fijiâ€™s largest integrated skin care, spa, rejuvenating centre aimed at tourists), and Adi Chocolates (Fijiâ€™s first chocolate maker). Other partners of MDF are: Farmboy, Tripeak Farms, Pacific Destinationz, Namana Arts Fiji, Coconut Kids, Walks & Trails, Wildfire Entertainment Group, Mai Life Travel, Southern Solutions, Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association, Benâ€™s Trading, South Pacific Elixirs, Maqere Exports, KK Hardware and Onyx Pacific.
Picture 1: Ms. Bishop reads through Standard Concrete Industriesâ€™ Aglime product benefits
Picture 2: Ms. Bishop discusses seedling nursery production with Mr. Devesh Nath (Director - Devesh and Bharos Farms)
Picture 3: Ms. Bishop is impressed with The Crab Company of Fijiâ€™s mud crab cultivation
Picture 4: Ms. Debra Sadranu (Director â€“ Essence of Fiji)) showcases her beauty and spa range of products to Ms. Bishop
Picture 5: Mr. & Mrs. Tomohito Zokushi (Directors â€“ Adi Chocolates Fiji) shows off their product varieties to Ms. Bishop
In his closing remarks, Dr. Harald Bekkers stated that over the next 4 years in Fiji, the program is expected to create 1,100 new jobs and increase incomes for 12,000 households in the country. â€œAlso, after recent elections we have more scope to partner with the public sector in Fiji on work on improving the Business Enabling Environment. And with our knowhow of the economy we want do more for female entrepreneurs and workersâ€, added Dr. Harald Bekkers.
Picture 1: Australian Foreign Affairs Minister together with officials from the Australian High Commission, MDFâ€™s partners and MDF Staff
Picture 2: Mr. Shahroz Jalil, MDF Fiji Country Representative explains MDFâ€™s portfolio of partnerships to Ms. Bishop through the photographs and partnership summaries
The exhibition was well attended by important dignitaries including the Acting Australian High Commissioner, Mr. Glenn Miles, officials from the Australian High Commission, Minister for Industry, Trade & Tourism, Mr. Faiyaz Koya, the Permanent Secretary for Industry, Trade, Public Enterprises and Tourism, Mr. Shaheen Ali, MDF Fijiâ€™s Country Steering Committee members and MDF Staff.