Supported by the Market Development Facility, the Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE) is Fiji’s first private sector led, 9-month business acceleration program consisting of classes, one-on-one mentoring and other activities aimed at helping enterprises grow and succeed. In March 2020, the FEE had already run their application process for their annual program and were ready to kick off. However, with the sudden onset of the pandemic and its devastating impacts on the Fijian economy, the FEE team was forced to rapidly adapt their programming. They needed to adapt their program curriculum to better support the selected entrepreneurs to develop an effective response to the new business challenges brought about by COVID.
In order to do so, Director Savenaca Baro worked with the program’s master trainer Steve Cordeiro to adapt their existing curricula to include a Covid-19 specific response. This involved getting local business coaches on board to work with the FEE team to address Covid-specific issues through their curriculum and one-on-one coaching, as well as developing business strategy, marketing and financial resources for MSMEs to use in their response.
The new content was delivered through a three month incubation program entitled ‘Survive, Revive and Grow’ to 15 enterprises. It focussed on how businesses can adapt to new ways of operating, and how they can innovate and calibrate their business to address opportunities created through the pandemic. The transition to virtual training was crucial for both building FEE’s resilience, as well as increasing participation from MSMEs geographically located out of Suva. A deliberate effort was also made to provide equitable access to women-led enterprises, who were more likely to be negatively impacted by the pandemic. Of the 15 enterprises supported, 8 were women-led.
Listening to the needs of their enterprises, FEE bolstered their support program by hosting networking events with regulatory bodies, finance institutions and industry leaders. Through these, the enterprises developed a better understanding of government regulations, and were provided with a platform to share immediate concerns of red tape with representatives from the Ministry of Employment Officials and representatives of the Fiji National Provident Fund. A Finance Networking Booster event was also held in partnership with financial institutions. The latter allowed enterprises to build their networks with possible funding institutions and access key information around products whilst also providing a platform for them to raise questions and concerns in regards to finance.
Through the SFI Program they also hosted a series of learning sessions that looked at practical ways to respond to changing market conditions and trends, featuring successful business operators in competitive industries and asking them to share their experiences.
If you would like to learn more about Fiji Enterprise Engine or have any questions, feel free to send us an email.
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