Lautafi Fio Purcell
Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour
Remarks to open S.B.E.C Trade Fair
Welcome to the opening of the Small Business Enterprise Centre’s Trade Fair and Business Awards, it is a pleasure to have you all and thank you for availing your valuable time this morning.
The theme of this Trade Fair is: “Driving sustainable business growth, recognising excellence.”
The government believes in the power of small businesses to impact positive changes that can improve our economy, and the office of S.B.E.C is a key agent in driving these changes. For more than twenty years, S.B.E.C has been instrumental in the development of businesses in Samoa especially those in the rural communities and Savaii.
S.B.E.C has worked with the financial institutions to encourage our entrepreneurs to push the limits, be it cultural, social and economic and see the value of small businesses through business trainings, mentoring and access to financial services.
The Government continues to support the development of businesses and the private sector in its national plans and programmes. This support is seen through a number of funding initiatives and legislatives such as annual grant funding, the Personal Properties and Securities Act, the Competition and Consumer Protection Act to assist in facilitating small business access to financial services and improving the business enabling environment.
In addition to this, various initiatives have been introduced through the different government ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Women, Social Development and Community and Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour to name a few, to further provide business opportunities to our people.
Key to these initiatives is the commitment to deliver this assistance to the rural communities, Savaii, Manono and Apolima.
Despite our geographic isolation, our small economy is still exposed to vulnerabilities that are brought about by the changes in the global economy, factors such financial crisis, exchange rates and interest rates, and these can hugely affect our small businesses.
We should not be discouraged because there are always opportunities. Savaii has some of the most fertile soil in the Pacific and there is wealth right in our backyards. Agriculture will always have a market as long as there are people in the world and Savaii holds tremendous potential to benefit from working this sector.
We need to improve our trade both locally and internationally and for this to happen we must continuously undertake research and analysis on opportunities available, and market competitiveness so that businesses have a better understanding of their enabling environment and help them grow. Technology is fast changing the way businesses are inducted, and the government is working to make sure that our small businesses and the private sector are not left behind.
The role of our financial institutions in Samoa is of great importance to our small businesses and we acknowledge the great support of the banks under the SBEC loan guarantee scheme. There is still room to improve on this and I challenge the commercial banks to increase your intake of Savaii clients. Savaii holds immense potential and I challenge you to give them that opportunity.
Small businesses are a vital component of our rural communities because it provides support for the family, the village and the church, the three cores of any Samoan community. However, owning a small business can be a challenge – fulfilling our social and cultural commitments have major impacts on businesses sustainability and survival. There are always threats to our businesses but they can only make you stronger and better. SBEC is here to guide and assist you through our business trainings, advisory services and facilitate your access to finance and financial services.
We need to continuously improve our business skills and ethics and I challenge you small businesses to allow time to undertake training and capacity building for you and your workers. Consider these an investment into your business because it is truly that. A business that invests in its workers is a business that will grow and succeed.
To all our businesses present here today, Your families depend on you, our villages depend you, our government depends on you and our economy depends on you.
S.B.E.C and the government can only provide the opportunities, but you are in the driver’s seat to drive this needed growth.
I wish to acknowledge the continuous commitment by the Government of New Zealand for funding SBEC since its establishment back in 1994 and especially for extending this funding for the next five years.
New Zealand’s commitment to private sector development has contributed greatly to the overall economic development of Samoa.
I also wish to acknowledge the continuous support of our other development partners towards the development of businesses in Samoa.
I congratulate you all especially our businesses from Savaii and Tokelau for making the effort to be here.
And on the theme Driving sustainable business growth, recognising excellence, I officially open the S.B.E.C Trade Fair and Business Awards 2017. Soifua