Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) chose not to open during the pandemic because the cost of compliance to do business was costly for them.
According to KPMG partner Renu Chand, the COVID-19 protocols, compliance and non-compliance along with the penalty provisions of $10,000 monetary fines or imprisonment were quite daunting.
“Many small businesses, especially in the West, chose not to reopen and waited for the borders to fully open with the government easing, then they were able to reopen business,” he said. she stated.
“By transporting staff, you would have to go and buy a vehicle to be able to pick up all the staff.
“It was all of those things that were quite difficult, but now the outlook is moving forward.”
In a presentation at the Women Invigorating the Nation convention, Ms. Chand spoke about business resilience and covered the SME space, which was the bread and butter of many women in Fiji.
“In terms of SME space, there is the largest SME network in Fiji, namely the Fiji SME Network, an organization founded by Kim Beddoes.
“And from there it has 534 members of which 53% are women and that’s a good representation of the SME space in Fiji because you have women from the north as well as outside of Suva.”
She said the main issues facing these businesses were cash flow, e-commerce as well as compliance.
“How do you do a cash flow and now how do you regularly monitor your working capital and cash flow under different scenarios.
“The second was e-commerce. “So everyone has been forced into leaps and bounds when it comes to technology and how do we enable technology in the workspace?
“How can you shop online? How can I buy things online? I was just trying to figure that out and the third was about compliance.
Ms Chand said the compliance issue was about the cost of doing business.
“If you are outside Suva, the cost of doing business is much higher. I use Nadi as an example because that’s where I’m based.
“For SMEs, the biggest challenge they had was just the cost of doing business in general.” She said that for SMEs, it was difficult and difficult for them to grow their business. Another issue faced by businesses in the Western Division was connectivity.
Ms Chand said businesses in the West had been hit by power outages and flooding. “You can’t access your connectivity, so you can’t even trade online.
“You got your FRCS compliance, which is online, so it’s a current challenge at the moment, just having that connectivity.
“And then if you go out to Vanua Levu and to maritime islands like Kadavu, you have very limited connectivity.
“So I think those challenges are going to be there, but that’s just how we can address them and work smarter around them.”