Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises

Key note address at the Fiji Enterprise Engine 2022 Business Accelerator Programme Launch

By Matin Karimli, Director ILO Office for the Pacific Island Countries at the Fiji Enterprise Engine 2022 Business Accelerator Programme Launch

Statement | Suva, Fiji | 27 June 2022
Hon Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum – Acting Prime Minister, Attorney-General and Minister of Economy, Civil Service, Communications, Housing and Community Development

H.E. John Feakes, Australian High Commissioner

Mr Vinay Narsey, FCEF President and CEO Kameli Batiweti

Dear colleagues, partners and invited guests,

It is my great pleasure to be here and address the new cohort of the Fiji Enterprise Engine, a successful partnership between FCEF and Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility.

I would like to start my statement with a quote from Jalaladdin Rumi, one of the greatest poets of all time, who said, “As you start to walk the way, the way appears.” And I think that by joining the program, you start a journey. This is a journey of opportunities, learning, and reflection. As you walk, the way will appear, and it will take you to your final goal.

This event coincides with the World Micro, Small, Medium-sized Enterprise Day. Today we recognise the potential of the MSMEs and celebrate their great contribution to economic growth and sustainable development.

Two years ago, ILO released a report titled “Small matters: Global evidence on the contribution to employment by the self-employed, micro-enterprises and SMEs.” Indeed, small matters as self-employed people and MSMEs account for over two-thirds of jobs globally.

This day is aimed at raising public awareness on how important MSMEs are to generate jobs and contribute to economies, but also highlighting the challenges they face with working conditions, informality, and productivity. These sectors have been amongst those hardest hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic globally.

Today the UN Resident Coordinator Office, ILO and FCEF hosted a mini market with about 25 women entrepreneurs to celebrate MSME day. I and my team had a chance to visit and talk to participating entrepreneurs about their businesses, ideas and problems pandemic has caused. One of them, Soni, a jewellery artist, referring to these problems, told us that “Life didn’t get easier, we got stronger and more resilient.”

The International Labour Organization works closely with Government and social partners in Fiji to contribute to the strength and the resilience of MSME, so that they can create productive employment and decent work for all.

I would like to bring your attention the ILO Recommendation No. 189, the only International Labour Standard that provides guidelines on general conditions to stimulate job creation in small and medium-sized enterprises. This Recommendation is an important instrument for ILO constituents, actors and institutions of the international community engaged in policies, strategies, and regulatory frameworks to enhance sustainable enterprises development.

The recommendation provides strategies, tools and responses developed by the ILO for their promotion. They are among several others: the Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises (EESE) Programme, the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises (SCORE) Programme, the Women's Entrepreneurship Development (WED) Programme, the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) Program, Women's Entrepreneurship Self-Check (WE-Check), and My Cooperative (MyCoop) training. I also need to mention that many of these programs have been extensively used by the ILO in the Pacific, including in Fiji.

I would like to highlight some of the areas my office provides support on and will continue to do so:
  • ILO will continue to support Enterprise Development programmes for PwD’s, Youths, and women through its SYB and IYB programme.
  • We support the review of the National Employment Policy, which will also address the concerns raised by MSMEs.
  • We continue supporting the adoption and implementation of International Labour Standards to support MSMEs.
  • Support programmes and projects that prevent violence against Women and Girls including those working as MSMEs.
  • We promote and provide support to ensuring Safety and Health for MSMEs through the development of OSH policies and procedures.
I am also very excited to inform you that ILO has recently received approval for a two-year joint UN project which includes Fiji. The project is titled - “Advancing the SDGs by Improving livelihoods and resilience via economic diversification and digital transformation”. This project aims to strengthen the capacity and resilience of workers and MSMEs in vulnerable communities, targeting women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the hard-hit sectors resulting from the impact of COVID-19.

This will be achieved 1) through the adoption of economic diversification strategies, and digital transformation, including support for legal and policy frameworks for promoting decent work, 2) modernizing public employment services, 3) improving access and quality of business development services in the creatives and digital sectors, 4) formalizing the informal economy, 5) and promoting sustainable and responsible business practices in line with international standards.

Finally, I would like to congratulate you on the launch of the Fiji Enterprise Engine 2022. For ILO we would like to further strengthen our relationships and I would be very glad to discuss how we take our partnership and commitments to another level.

Many thanks for your attention. Vinaka.