Helping business grow
There is no such thing as entering a room full of strangers if you’re a Pacific business owner. Most Pacific business owners know each other but networking is still essential for those starting up or growing a business.
The Fiji Business Networking evening hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples was full of enthusiastic business savvy.
“It’s all about starting a conversation,” says Laura Keil-Hall, a Ministry staff member who works closely with Pacific businesses by using the language week as a platform to spark meaningful business conversations.
“Pacific businesses sometimes operate in their own bubble, and events like this help many to connect and find ways to network to develop a successful business. It is also good in terms of effective networking for our Ministry staff.”
“The emphasis of the event was to inspire and connect Fiji business people with each other, as we do not know enough of the Fijian business landscape.”
“We have the Samoan, Tongan, Niuean and Cook Islands business networks and this is the first time we made a call to our Fijian corporate community.”
Laura says at the moment there is a huge appetite for something like this and the fact that it is a collaborative event means that it draws in other entrepreneurs.
Rotuman creative artist, Alfie Prasad says he’s new to the business environment.
“I’ve just started setting up my own business in event décor and it’s really hard. Leaving a full time paid job to run your own business is not easy.”
“Networking plays a big part. I fully endorse a Fiji Business Network,” says Alfie.
Aklesi Dean, owner of Kalesi Spa Beauty Lounge says effective networking helps business startups.
“We laugh, but we exchange critical information and form professional connections through events like this”.
“My husband runs an electrical and air conditioning company and I run Kalesi Spa on the side. It’s tough but it’s also self-rewarding to give it a go and you learn along the way.”
“My business is all about destressing and exploring different types of massages in an authentic Pacific way. Our therapists are from Fiji, and fully trained in the hospitality industry. We want to give our customers a full experience of our culture, language and experience.”
“We are striving to be the Pacific’s finest for spa therapy in New Zealand,” says Aklesi.
Others included in the event were; broadcaster, Bulou Amalaini Ligalevu who set up the Fijian radio station Radiokvk FM, Henry Jackson from the ASB Bank, who talked about lending and support for small businesses, IRD representatives informing the community about new changes which will impact businesses and Pacific people, and many others with their own unique business stories.
There were meaningful conversations and business cards were passed around.
“There is no such thing as awkward networking when it comes to Pacific businesses coming together,” says Laura.
“You never know who you’ll meet at these events. Our job in the Ministry is establishing connections and creating our own platforms for our community.”
A survey is intended to be sent to those who attended, to get feedback about the event and suggestions for where to go from here.
The event was a fantastic opportunity for Fiji business owners in New Zealand to come together, network, share ideas and talk about the successes and challenges of the business world.
Watch this space!