Nadi, Fiji - Encouraging young people to start their own businesses in Fiji and operate with integrity from the outset was one of the key messages at a three-day Business Integrity for Youth Entrepreneurs Workshop hosted by the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) Project from 16-19 September in Nadi.
In response to COVID-19 in the Pacific, UN-PRAC has embraced the narrative of youth as game changers and influencers with the capability and potential to lead the new normal in this current COVID-19 era and beyond. The workshop also encouraged “collective action” as a process of getting groups of people and companies or organizations to work together to create a fair business environment with minimal risk of corruption and a level playing field for all.
The UNPRAC project facilitated the workshop with the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCFE) for these young entrepreneurs using a toolkit developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Office aimed at unpacking the importance of business integrity.
Small Business Owner and Founder of Design House - 8 Mountains Collection, Moira Solvalu Johns, was impressed with the workshop, particularly as it focused on how small businesses can navigate what can be a blurry line between the public and private sector.
“The past three days refreshed our resolve to pivot with integrity in our business to adapt, maintain and uphold better business practices and to be more diligent about dealing with corruption,” said Solvalu.
“Corruption hinders entrepreneurship and innovation in society. In this training, we are opening an important dialogue with existing and potential young entrepreneurs in Fiji on how they can do business with integrity. Opting for clear values and strong ethics can only raise the impact of their businesses in the market and bring more investors,” said UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, Anti-Corruption Adviser, Sonja Stefanovska-Trajanoska.
In a recent World Economic Forum survey, poor governance and corruption are still perceived by millennials (74 percent) as the main obstacle holding their countries back and depriving their generation of social, political and economic opportunities (73 percent).
“You the youths are important to progress the anti-corruption agenda and this workshop will provide you with the opportunity to take stock of your business practices, policies and most importantly the functions of your business processes,” said FCEF, Executive Officer, Victoria Yee.
Echoing the same sentiments, the Manager Corruption Prevention, for the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC), Kolora Naliva, highlighted that “one agency alone cannot fight corruption, the participation of civil society and the private sector are of paramount importance.”
The workshop was attended by more than 30 young entrepreneurs from the fashion, music, performing arts, information technology, agriculture, manufacturing, service, construction/quarrying, electrical engineering and retail industries providing them the opportunity to get started on the right foot.
“UN-PRAC adopts a whole-of-society approach to integrity so it’s important to promote networking between existing and potential young entrepreneurs, along with FCEF and Government, and joint advocacy for transparent, effective and efficient services,” said United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Regional Anti-Corruption Adviser in the Pacific, Ms. Annika Wythes.
The UN-PRAC Project, a joint initiative by UNODC and UNDP, supported by the Australian Government and the New Zealand Aid Programme, is working on private sector integrity issues affecting, youth, women and all entrepreneurs with the FCFE and FICAC.
Akara Umapornsakula, Communications Assistant, UN Office on Drugs and Crime Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; tel: (66) 22 88 1906
Jone Tuiipelehaki Raqauqau, Communications Associate, Effective Governance Team, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email: email@example.com, tel: (679) 3227 552 or (679) 7836744