Honiara: 17 January 2016
Letter to the Editor, Solomon Star Newspaper.
The Prime Minister Manasseh, Sogavare, last week commended the private sector for their perseverance and hard work in running their businesses.
He was reported speaking last Friday during the launch of the newly upgraded facility of Didao Refueling Station, at Kukum, in east Honiara.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate and commend Solomon Islanders who are useful in doing business throughout the country; very often in an environment that is full of challenges and very little assistance from the government,” Mr Sogavare was quoted as having said.
I know the Youth@Work organization has given advice and practical support to youths interested in starting their own businesses and I am sure there is some government help too, but it would seem, according to the Prime Minister, that assistance is still lacking for would-be entrepreneurs wanting to start a business.
I know in Perth, Western Australia, there is a Small Business Development Corporation, an independent statutory authority, established in 1984 under the Small Business Development Corporation Act 1983.
The agency delivers relevant, practical support to small businesses and its primary role is to offer free, confidential advice and guidance to small business starters and owners.
Its vision is for a strong and enterprising small business sector in Western Australia and to deliver and facilitate relevant, practical support to small businesses and to foster the development of policy.
The agency also delivers a range of workshops that provide practical, real-world information on how to build a successful, profitable and dynamic small business.
Could this Small Business Development Corporation model be of some assistance in the Solomon Islands?
I am guessing that, today, I expect more than 75 percent of the labour force in the Solomon Islands is still engaged in subsistence farming and fishing and the internal economic activity is significantly complemented by a high degree of foreign assistance, in addition to technical and physical support.
According to the World Bank reports, the country receives roughly 40% of its gross national income in official development aid.
A major drawback in starting a private business is usually a shortage of money and I have been pleased to have learned, most recently, of microloans being made available in the Solomon Islands, but I suspect some potential clients lacks financial literacy and awareness and prevented a number of would-be business owners from obtaining the necessary start-up capital.
It would be beneficial, I believe, if local Banks or Agencies supporting microloans would initiate training programs to enhance awareness, if such training is not already being conducted.
I would end by endorsing what the PM believes to be necessary and that is, if business-minded Solomon Islanders work together with business institutions in the country, they can become successful and eventually grow the country’s economy.