Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) concluded its provincial visits for 2019 with its fourth provincial training mission to Munda in the Western Province.
Over the past four months, SICCI visited Western, Malaita and Makira/Ulawa province as part of the private sector organization’s efforts to connect with and support small businesses in rural areas where close to 80% of the country’s population dwell.
This is a deliberate outreach strategy to engage with business in provincial urban areas to ensure that not only are they provided practical training but can also raise issues or concerns that they feel should be addressed in order for them to grow further.
This aligns with one of the key objectives in SICCI Strategic Plan 2019-2023 to improve their capacity and grow their businesses, leading to greater contribution to the country’s economy through job-creation and revenue for Government.
SICCI Membership and Services Officer, Ms Naomi Mara said that to date, SICCI has conducted four provincial business trainings.
First one was in Gizo (21-24 May), then in Auki (25-28 June), followed by delivery in Kirakira (16-19 July) and the last delivery in Munda (30 July to 2 August).
In total, forty-eight (48) businesses in the three provinces benefited from the business trainings.
The topic for this year was ‘Bookkeeping and Basic Accounting’, in which SICCI partnered with the Solomon Islands Small Business Enterprise Centre (SISBEC) to facilitate through their qualified trainers.
Ms Mara said training outcome is to help business operators to improve their financial record keeping so that they can have reliable financial reports to help them in managing their businesses effectively.
“This is a powerful tool as it can also help in growing their operations or expanding their business, as sound financial records are a prerequisite for financing by say, commercial banks.
“It is important for SICCI to provide an avenue for rural-based entrepreneurs to have access to practical trainings. Not only that, but to also be plugged into the Chamber network and utilise the different services and support we have going on for our members’ she said.
SICCI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Atenasi Ata said the Chamber recognizes that large number of its membership is based in Honiara.
“The Chamber prioritises this engagement with businesses in the provinces in order to better represent the Solomon Islands private sector. Ultimately this meets the SICCI goal of contributing to economic development across the country, and not just in Honiara”
“This approach of taking value-add services to them, is because being based in the provinces they lack access to networks or support systems as compared to businesses in Honiara.
“In addition, this latest round of trainings showed that over 70% of the participants were women. This shows that our province-based businesses are valuing their women staff, and that women as business owners are prioritising upskilling. We are excited about this and look forward to connecting with them again when we embark on next year’s series of trainings.” the CEO said.
Meanwhile, Membership and Services Officer, Ms Mara encourages more business participation in provincial trainings next year.
“Although the need for practical business trainings have been raised over the years, the challenge is in securing commitment to attend. We enter into partnerships with service providers at the provincial centres, to try and bring costs down but unfortunately the costs in hosting these events are still quite high.
“So, the pricing structure will try to balance costs and the long-term goal we are aiming for, of increased capabilities. For example, we partnered with Agnes Gateway Hotel for this last training which was a very beneficial partnership. Also, next year we will be engaging with Provincial Governments, NGOs and other organizations based in the provinces to partner on aspects of the trainings like venue-share, as well as identify common goals possibly in upskilling key staff of their organisations,” she said.
SICCI commends all the businesses owners who have invested time and their money in the trainings.
SICCI also acknowledges accommodation-provider, Agnes Gateway Hotel in Munda for its generous support towards the training in held for businesses in Noro and Munda recently.