Australia’s MDF supports publication of guide to support private sector engagement with iTaukei communities
The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and the iTaukei Trust Fund Board, with the support of the Australian Government-funded Market Development Facility (MDF), have developed an online resource titled, ‘Five steps for success – A guide for businesses engaging with iTaukei communities.’ The publication aims to support improved business links and relationships with indigenous communities in Fiji.
The guide draws on findings from MDF’s recently published Community Engagement Study, which was compiled through interviews with four villages, surveys, and a review of existing MDF partnerships. The study team explored traditional governance structures, village activities and obligations, decision-making processes, information flows and previous business relationships.
At the launch of the e-guide on 13 August 2021, Mr Pita Tagicakirewa, Acting Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs, shared his appreciation for the comprehensive guide, which will assist the business advisory support provided through the Commercial Unit at the Ministry. Mr Tagicakirewa added that the guide would be available on the Ministry’s website and that there were plans to have printed copies available through provincial offices, local banks and NGOs.
Mr Aisake Taito, CEO of the iTaukei Trust Fund Board, also commended the guide. “We are happy to support this timely initiative, as the guide recognises and supports the need for improved business engagement with our Fijian communities. While we continue to work on improving the entrepreneurship and management skills of our people, we also would like to see a more focussed approach from the business community to understand the realities of Fijian life and culture in the villages so both parties can do business and grow together to uplift the wellbeing of our people,” he highlighted.
The guide looks at five steps businesses need to follow for successful business engagement with iTaukei communities: identifying the best region in Fiji to engage with in regard to business interest; understanding the people; following village protocols; business design consultations; and fostering and aintaining relationships. The guide also provides useful insights for businesses that work with women, aiming to strengthen the resilience and sustainability of strategies involving indigenous Fijian women.
Australia through MDF has been invested in understanding best- practice community engagement methods for the private sector in Fiji and currently MDF supports high value agriculture, niche tourism and urban industries – including outsourcing services and medium, small and micro enterprise development.
“We are happy that some of the key findings of our recent MDF Community Engagement Study have been used to inform the new guide, and we are proud to have been able to work alongside the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and iTaukei Trust Fund Board to finalise the document”, stated MDF Country Director Malcom Bossley.
The Business Guide documents are available via this link: http://www.itaukeiaffairs.gov.fj/index.php/2017-06-13-00-51-24/business-guide