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Fiji, ADB Ties ‘Deep, Strong’

Fiji, ADB Ties ‘Deep, Strong’
The Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum before a crowd during the Future Host Country Event hosted by the Fijian Government at the ADB headquarters in Manila, Philippines on May 4, 2018. Photo: Maraia Vula
May 05
13:12 2018

Fiji and the Asian Development Bank share a very deep and strong partnership.

This was the message from ADB Pacific Department director general Ma. Carmela Locsin in an interview on the margins of the 51st annual meeting of the ADB Board of Governors in Manila, Philippines.

She noted that Fiji was wrestling with a lot of issues of resilience, but ADB was more than willing to help develop Small Medium Entreprises.

“What we can help do is help design projects for Fiji that will attract a range of funding sources,” she said.

“We can work with SMEs. Fiji has so many SMEs and I think part of what Fiji wants to do is ensure SMES become a lot more productive.

“We can help work with the Government to help commercialise, corporatise and prepare these SMES for privatisation so that they can perform the services.

“Government wants increasingly to improve a model whereby it’s more of a regulator and spinoff as much as possible some of these SMEs to the private sector.

“Naturally, our work in helping Fiji address resilience is to set the stage for private-public partnerships and the private sector.”

The Asia Development Bank hosted a seminar on Breaking Barriers: Women Entrepreneurship in Asia and the Pacific.

The key message from this seminar, which every Pacific Island country and even Fiji should learn from, is that supporting women’s entrepreneurship is the key to their economic empowerment.

Despite the progress made over the past two decades in empowering women in Asia and the Pacific, there remain huge gender gaps, particularly in the economic and political spheres.

“Women’s entrepreneurship is important because it helps us move closer to the goal of achieving a more gender equal Asia and the Pacific,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the seminar.

“Under our new Strategy 2030, ADB will pay increased attention to generating employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for women.”

Panellists at the seminar included International Labour Organization Director Graeme Buckley; Chief Executive Officer of Prelo (an Indonesian enterprise offering a retail-sharing e-platform) Fransiska Hadiwidjana; Undersecretary of the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry Zenaida Maglaya; President and Representative Director of Veolia Japan K. K. Yumiko Noda; and President of the Bangladesh Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Rokia Afzal Rahman.

ADB under Strategy 2030 will place an even stronger emphasis on women’s economic empowerment. Infrastructure projects will maximize women’s access to markets and opportunities for skilled jobs.

Through enhanced technical and vocational education and training programs, ADB will enable women’s access to quality jobs in nontraditional, higher-paying sectors.

ADB will expand integrated support for women entrepreneurs through better access to finance, the adoption of new technologies, and policy and institutional reforms.

ADB has been adopting innovative approaches involving other partners in promoting women’s entrepreneurship.

In April 2018, ADB received a US$12.6 million grant from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) (a global fund hosted by the World Bank Group) to help Sri Lankan women-led businesses obtain bank loans and improve business skills.

This new source of funding complements ADB’s own financing of US$175 million, which was approved earlier to encourage local partner banks to grow their small and medium-sized enterprise portfolios—especially for businesses that are outside Colombo or are women-led.

Mr Nakao mentioned ADB’s ongoing efforts to improving gender balance within ADB, with representation of women among international staff increasing to a record high of 35 per cent in 2017 — a step closer to the bank’s target of 40 per cent by the end of 2022.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members — 48 from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totalled US$32.2 billion, including US$11.9 billion in co-financing.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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