Thursday 19 January 2017
New Zealand business training providers Learn.fast Pacific is working in collaboration with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) to help small businesses achieve financial sustainability and reduce business stress.
The partnership comes as Learn.fast Pacific joined SICCI as a member in December 2016 that will follow a three-day training next month targeting small to medium size businesses.
Christ Elphic, Learn.fast Pacific director, said joining the Chamber provides a network to reach out to the business community, especially SMEs that are looking at improving productivity and becoming successful entrepreneurs.
“The Chamber is the obvious group to collaborate with where we can offer our training to the members,” said the director.
“Our trainings are very practical,” Elphic explains. “Focusing on what is needed out in the field to grow and be successful”.
Learn.fast Pacific is not new to the local business environment.
Elphic and his team came into the country five years ago through a New Zealand-funded programme.
He had previously worked with SICCI during that time and had provided a number of trainings to businesses.
He said the scope of Learn.fast Pacific is to look for potential people who have what it takes and build them to become successful entrepreneurs. Much of this focus is on small to medium size businesses and businesses in the rural areas.
Learn.fast Pacific has operations across the Pacific and mostly deals with the Chambers in establishing their relationship with the local businesses.
Elphic himself has worked across the Pacific doing training, coaching and mentoring.
“To me, the strength of the small business sector is key to the future survival of Pacific Island countries and what we do is about strengthening the sector through practical action, working closely with chambers of commerce and other business support organisations.”
The planned three-day training will take place in Honiara at the end of February with the theme “Your business in 2017 – being the best you can be”.
The training will include sessions for leading and planning for success and reducing stress in business.
This covers topics effective leadership for SMEs, strategic for operational planning including basic financial management and being prepared for possible challenges including business continuity.
In 2017, SICCI will be looking at facilitating a range of training initiatives geared towards SMEs including a mentoring and coaching program aimed at linking large businesses to SMEs.
Wednesday 18 January 2017
There is a growing threat for the coconut and palm tree industry if the spread of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle intensifies and remains untreated. Already the impacts are visible and felt by farms through the destruction of coconut and palm oil trees in Guadalcanal.
This was raised at the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Committee (CRBC), a committee formed to monitor and control the spread of the beetle.
Samantha Maeke, the Export Industry Development Officer from the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) and a member of the CRBC, says there are alarming indications.
Coconut and oil palm are critical resources for the Solomon Islands economy – both commercially and at a subsistence level. Many farmers and families rely on these commodities for employment, income generation and basic survival.
The country could face a national crisis given the severity of the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle, the committee concluded.
The beetle attack has already affected some farms and plantations with the loss of production and supply of coconut and oil palm.
Evidence in other countries such as Guam and Samoa shows that the beetle has affected coconut plantations. In Hawaii it was declared a pest emergency.
The CRBC fears that the continued rampage of the beetle will affect other fruit crops such as bananas and pineapples.
Already it has affected oil palms at the Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL). If untreated, it will have a huge impact on the production of oil palm and the sustainability of the industry.
Putting into perspective the risks are overwhelming, says SICCI CEO Dennis Meone.
“At the micro level – communities would lose their economic ability, food and as well as their way of life. At the macro level, it can result in the entire loss of both the coconut and palm oil industries.
“It is therefore paramount that urgent action has to be undertaken by the government and relevant stakeholders.”
The CRBC meeting indicates that public-private partnership is the best approach to ensure that the beetle pest is properly contained and managed to reduce and lessen the impacts on both industries.
Mr Meone acknowledged the efforts undertaken by the committee in dealing with the issue but highlighted that there is a pressing need for more government support to fast-track the remedial approaches the CRBC has adopted.
Copra and coconut oil exports recorded $95 million in the first three quarters of 2016, according to data from the Central Bank of Solomon Islands; $31 million in the first quarter, $29 million in the second quarter and bulked up to $35 million in the third.
“Agriculture has always been the backbone of the country and if it is to continue to support economic growth and development, we must continue to support the sector to grow, diversify and reach its full potential,” said Meone.
“In this case we must quickly resolve and contain the spread of the beetle which is threatening the entire coconut and oil palm industry.”
The Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle was first reported in Honiara in 2012 and has since spread further into Guadalcanal as far west as Visale in Northwest Guadalcanal and recently affecting oil palms at GPPOL in Northeast Guadalcanal.
There are also reports of the beetle reaching provinces Malaita, Isabel, Western and Choiseul.
The biggest challenge facing the CRBC is the lack of resources and funding to carry out assessments and treatments. It is understood that the committee has rally resources from within the committee members.
External assistance is also provided by FAO and SPC.
The CRBC is made up of the Coconut Industry Working Group, SICCI, Commodities Export Marketing Authority (CEMA), GPPOL, Rural Development Program (RDP) and the Biosecurity SI division from the Ministry of Agriculture.
SICCI is a member of the industry working group.
Tuesday 17 January 2017
The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) has applauded the National Government for taking forward the submarine internet cable project that is expected to start work next month.
SICCI sees the significance of the cable investment and has welcomed the announcement made earlier this month of a contract with manufacturing giant Huawei to implement the project.
The Cable initiative is long overdue and the sooner the project is implemented the better it will be for the economy. It will unlock many opportunities for the country and bring with it many benefits for the government, the business community and Solomon Islanders.
The Government has promised to appoint a CEO in the SISCC office by early February.
SICCI CEO Dennis Meone says the cable project is important for the growth of the economy.
Among many benefits, the cable will boost the county’s internet speed connection, cheaper internet rates, make it easier for more investment opportunities, and of course meaning potentially more jobs and opportunities for Solomon Islanders when businesses are thriving and expanding their investment frontier.
It will also improve productivity and reduce wastage in time and costs.
“As the representative body of the Private Sector, we give our full support behind the project,” said Meone.
“It is a long overdue project but we applaud SIG in leading and driving this important initiative forward.
“This project will provide a huge leap for internet services in the Solomon Islands, where we are depending more and more on the internet for basic services. The internet is the key means to communications nowadays and can have a better impact on production and efficiency.”
Once completed, the project will connect Honiara to Sydney, Australia via a communications cable laid along the sea bed.
Submarine cables are more suitable to the isolated and third-world country locations, and is known to reduce the cost of communication access and stimulate increased economic growth.
Thursday 15 December 2016
Members of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) were briefed on the ongoing drawdown of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), mid this week.
A delegation comprising of RAMSI the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and Government officials teamed up with SICCI in hosting a business breakfast on Wednesday morning and shared updates on the progress of RAMSI’s drawdown.
The drawdown is expected to conclude by June 2017.
RAMSI Special Coordinator, Quinton Devlin who led the discussions said RAMSI has confidence in the local police force RSIPF to resume full responsibility in maintaining peace and security after RAMSI leaves.
Mr Devlin outlined RAMSI’s final transition phase and highlighted the next steps ahead, noting that RSIPF will continue to access support from Australia through bilateral arrangement.
The briefings are part of a wide-ranging series of community and stakeholder consultations on RAMSI’s drawdown and the Solomon Islands Government’s preparations for RAMSI’s conclusion.
RSIPF Police Commissioner, Frank Prendergast, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Police and Correctional Service, Edmond Sikua, and SIG Special Secretary to RAMSI, John Wasi also attended the business breakfast.
The speakers, in particular the Commissioner of Police and the Permanent Secretary, spoke of the confidence they have in the police force adding that the RSIPF is capable of maintaining law and order.
The delegation also highlighted the need for support from the community and stakeholders, and called for support from the private sector in assisting RSIPF carry out its policing role.
Special Secretary to RAMSI, John Wasi emphasized that security and law and order is everyone’s business and responsibility, and urged the business community to continue to work closely and support the police.
The breakfast provides an opportunity for SICCI members to also raise issues of concern to the delegation. The event was well attended by SICCI members who kept a lively interaction with the presenters throughout the program.
Since mid- 2013, RAMSI’s main role has been assisting the RSIPF to strengthen its capacity and further develop it as a modern, effective and self-reliant police force.
The consultations and post-RAMSI arrangements will continue in the coming months both in Honiara and the provinces.
The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) welcomes the ongoing consultations and gives its full support to RSIPF.