Business Support Grant to Empower Co-operatives in Rural and Maritime Regions

Business Link Pacific (BLP) and Business Assistance Fiji (BAF), in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications (MTCSMEC), discussed initiatives to support co-operative businesses in Fiji with business grants.

Through this initiative, BLP, BAF, and the ministry aim to support co-operative businesses through financial grants, with a focus on fostering resilience, innovation, and inclusion.

The co-operatives in the Central, Western, Northern, and Eastern divisions can receive grants of up to $20,000 FJD (per co-operative) upon meeting compliance and performance criteria.

Priority will be given to applications that address the following key issues:

  • Climate Change: Initiatives focused on climate resilience, green growth, and sustainable practices.
  • Innovation: Projects that introduce new products, services, or operational improvements.
  • Inclusion: Efforts aimed at extending services to underserved communities, ensuring equitable benefits.

The co-operatives need to contribute at least 20% of the project cost, with 10% required in cash and rest in kind. The co-operative may also consider applying for loans toward the total project cost.

Business Link Pacific, Director, Mr. Steve Knapp said “The co-operative business model offers communities the advantage of working together for a common good, fostering economic and human development. At BLP, we want to encourage remote communities to increase their climate resilience through innovation and inclusive business propositions.”

The Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises and Communications, Mr. Shaheen Ali said he was thrilled to embark on this partnership with BAF and the Ministry looks forward to assist co-operatives in Fiji in their respective business ventures.

“In an era where sustainable development, innovation, and inclusion are pivotal to economic resilience and growth, the collaborative initiative by BLP, BAF and the Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives, Small and Medium Enterprises, and Communications emerges as a transformative opportunity. This program seeks to leverage the Business Support Grant Pilot Project to empower co-operatives within Fiji’s rural and maritime regions.”

Mr Ali said that by harnessing the collective strength of these entities, the initiative aims to drive forward projects that are not only commercially viable but also socially impactful, particularly in the domains of climate change, innovation, and inclusion.

The co-operatives will be identified by MTCSMEC through the Department of Co-operatives, with eligibility based on compliance with legislative requirements. BAF will offer financial reporting assistance if needed.

BAF will provide guidance to identified co-operatives in preparing and submitting grant applications, with support extended by MTCSMEC, BAF, and the co-operative in developing a comprehensive business plan.

During application submission, it is essential to provide evidence of the co-operative’s financial contribution.

BLP to evaluate applications based on alignment with the grant categories and potential impact during assessment.

Upon successful evaluation, co-operatives are required to enter into a grant agreement with BLP. Once this agreement is finalized, grants will be disbursed to the co-operatives, enabling them to commence their projects promptly.

The monitoring and evaluation of the projects will be conducted continuously by BAF and the MTCSMEC divisional managers to ensure that project objectives are achieved and to assess their impact.

 Co-operatives will need to liaise with their divisional co-operative officers.

The grant application opened on 10 April 2024 and closes on 31 May 2024. Processing and disbursement of grants are scheduled to be completed by 30 June 2024.

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