Sitting from L-R: Mr. Liga Gukisuva, CEO, IC0N Sporting Apparel; Ms Vui Saketa, Founder, Kanalevu Kitchen; Dr Mere Samisoni, Chairperson, the Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK); and Ms Mereia Volavola, Consultant and former CEO of PIPSO. Pictured with them are MBA students.
A Talanoa session on Entrepreneurship and Innovation for The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Master of Business Administration (MBA) students was held at the Statham Campus on 3 October 2019.
The students heard of the passion, commitment and hard work along with some sneak previews on how to identify business opportunities, which are numerous in Fiji from three local entrepreneurs namely Dr Mere Samisoni, Chairperson, the Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK); Mr. Liga Gukisuva, CEO, IC0N Sporting Apparel and Ms Vui Saketa, Founder, Kanalevu Kitchen.
The Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO) describes HBK as “Iconic, legendary, an institution”, which was inspired by a concept in Australia in the 70’s that founder Dr Mere Samisoni chanced upon while she was there with her late husband, Dr Jimione Samisoni.
Upon her family’s return to Fiji, the setting up of three Hot Bread Kitchens in 1982 were made possible through their joint partnerships with two other local businessmen, and Australian partner.
Eventually Samisoni Enterprises Limited bought 100 per cent of the shares of the company and through the consistent fulfilment of HBK’s mission of providing the community with freshly baked bread every day, HBK has expanded to having a chain of 30 bakeries around the Fiji Islands and a franchise in Honiara, Solomon Islands.
There is a HBK shop at every corner and the business is proud to employ over 700 staff throughout Fiji of with more than 50 per cent are women employees including in managerial positions. HBK won the Employer of Choice for Women award at the premier Women in Business Awards in Fiji.
HBK may have developed to a large business, but it has remained a family business. Now being managed by the Samisoni children.
Dr. Samisoni, highlighted some typical problems faced by businesses in Fiji but in her case the main issue is getting the right rental space to start new outlets. Her plans for expansion is to establish two centralised bakeries in east and west of Fiji. In order to retain the brand and legacy of her family business, Dr. Samisoni plans to corporatise the business in near future so that the ownership can be expanded to her employees as well.
Mr. Gukisuva’s business card display “Think, Believe and Become”. In his passionate and motivational address to MBA students he stated that “we Think outside the square, Believe in our product and what we do and strive to Become the best we can”.
With these ‘three core values, goals and dreams that drive us each day to continuously strive to improve and create the best possible product.”
Mr. Liga hails from Vanuavatu in Lau, with a career spanning of more than 20 years as an employee from security officer to Marketing Officer, Vodafone Fiji.
Mr Liga first started his own company in 2016 focusing on Digital LED Signage and Advertising which not only attracts but also brightens the main arteries of Suva and Nadi roads.
In his quest for expansion and natural progression Mr Liga started “Blue Birds Event Company” a total events company which provides events planning and management, digital LED signage solutions that helps clients to generate growth with insightful and impactful marketing concepts & platform.
His clients includes multi-channel retailers, FMCG organizations, Government ministries, national airline, petroleum companies, telecommunication entities, mainstream media companies, financial services businesses and academic institutions.
His sportswear is proudly worn by Fiji Rugby teams and Fiji athletes of Pacific Games which resulted in expanding to other Pacific Island Countries.
Mr. Liga is an MBA of USP’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) and his key message was “if you have a dream take a plunge, there are opportunities and challenges, you will never get bored in life”.
Ms Vui Saketa, Founder, Kanalevu Kitchen, is a career banker with more than 15 years of experience at ANZ Bank, who decided to take a plunge into business.
Having gained experience of customer relations and network, she was quick to spot a growing need for a professional and quality catering services to corporate events within the offices.
With a saving of just $500, Ms Vui took a risk of resigning a well-paid job to start serving breakfast and lunch to office goers commuting from Nausori to Suva corridor. Later she expanded to office events. She single handedly started to cook and serve the needs of customers by working long hours while taking care of the family chores and children schools and home work.
Within 12 months, her business has expanded to six digit figures and employs 6 women whom she guides on menus but does not micro manage. However she ensures that food is cooked on time and presented professionally to the customers.
Her message to the students was that “if you believe in yourself, enter confidently in what you want to do and try to accomplish it”.
“Do not get disheartened when things do not go your way but with strong commitment and hard work, one can achieve one’s goals,” she advised.
The Talona session was coordinated by Ms Mereia Volavola, Consultant and former CEO of PIPSO.
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