SICCI Vice Chair Katalaini Ziru at the Forum Economic Ministers Meeting in Suva, Fiji. Photo credits: Facebook/Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SICCI) made an outstanding contribution at the 2017 Forum Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) in Suva, Fiji, after taking the lead role in co-chairing and presenting private sector statements to Forum Economic Ministers on behalf of National Private Sector Organizations (NPSOs) in the Pacific Region.

Vice Chair to the SICCI Board, Ms Katalaini Ziru was given the privilege to co-chair along with the Chair of PIPSO (Pacific Islands Private Sector Organization) Mr Howard Pollatini and delivered priorities and issues of concern from private sectors in the region.

This follows on from a successful Private Sector Dialogue (PSD) Workshop.

The PSD is a meeting of private sector organisations that corresponds with the FEMM, a summit of economic and finance ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). The private sector organisations come together to provide recommendations to the agenda discussed by the regional leaders.

The PSD meeting is held separately but in parallel to the Forum Economic Ministers and the Forum Economic Officials during the weeklong summit.

Ms Ziru presented to the Forum Economic Ministers recommendations and outcomes made by NPSOs on three thematic issues that are critical to private sectors in the region on: Incentives for Business Growth; Improving Business Mobility; and the linkage of Pacific economies to the Asian markets.

These include the call for Economic Ministers to support the private sector steering committee in progressing on-going labour mobility and the harmonization of business practices initiatives, improving business mobility through pacific business travel card and recognizing the importance of the Asian markets and pursuing opportunities for strong economic and social relations with pacific region.

The Chair also called on Forum Secretariat to coordinate with the relevant stakeholders including with national private sector organisations, and CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) in the implementation of these recommendations.

According to Ms Ziru, it was a great privilege and honour to co-chair and present the private sector statement to forum leaders.

“We presented on behalf of all the NPSOs [National Private Sector Organisations] from the region and I think at the end of the day, our presentation was well received by leaders, officials and CSO attending the summit,” said Ziru who described it as an exciting achievement for SICCI.

She said the experience has also offered a broader view of SICCI’s position amongst other national private sector organisations.

“We have a vibrant, dynamic team that is inclusive in terms of engagement with the Government and CSOs and we are fortunate to have establish a robust and interactive relationship with our government, civil society and broader stakeholders in pushing private sector issues and in improving the business environment.”

SICCI leads young entrepreneurship programme

The Vice Chair later joined a meeting hosted by Pacific Youth Council, the Commonwealth and International Labour Organisation (ILO) held that same week in support of the Young Entrepreneurship Council (YEC) – an initiative also attended by SICCI’s YEC representative, Ms Millicent Barty.

At the meeting was the signing of a Grant Agreement between ILO and SICCI for initial set up of the YEC programme.

The YEC programme is an initiative supported by the Solomon Islands Government through Ministries of Youth and Women; Commerce and Industries; Tourism and Agriculture respectively.

YEC is a body that will assist in the promotion, development and provision of dedicated support services to young entrepreneurs in Solomon Islands. YEC will bring young entrepreneurs together to be part of a larger network of young entrepreneurs. It will support them in a range of areas including business registration, mentoring, coordinate training and business development needs and develop programmes to address priorities of young entrepreneurs.

SICCI sees the significance of the YEC programme to help young entrepreneurs build on their leadership skills, a driving resemblance of the current SICCI Executive Board which is made up of young business leaders themselves.

“As a Chamber we have an important role to develop and nurture young entrepreneurs, hence, our engagement and leadership in the YEC,” says SICCI Chair, Jay Bartlett. 

“The issue of unemployment and the lack of opportunities available today for our young people is something we as a society – in all aspects of the community – Government, Private Sector, CSO, Civil Society & churches need to urgently address.

“YEC is important initiative and one which will go a long way in tackling our unemployment problem by assisting young people to become innovative entrepreneurs and self-employed.”

One of the key objectives of the current SICCI Board is the development of Micro & Small Medium Enterprises and local young entrepreneurs to create jobs for our people. 

About the author

Ernest Ta’asi is the Chamber's Media & Communications Officer. Ernest writes most of the Chamber's media releases. He also manages the website contents, designs the Chamber's monthly newsletter, brochures and maintains the organisation's visual branding. 

Ernest can be contacted on email: media@solomonchamber.com.sb 

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