CAPTION: Janend flanked by Sun Insurance CEO Lolesh Sharma, HE President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and FDB Chairman Bob Lyon.
The Commendation Award received at the 2012 FDB Small Business Awards for the Wholesale/Retail Category in November came as a timely boost for Janendra Kumar, 44, from Nasau, Sigatoka.
Janendra or Janend as his friends call him is an entrepreneur who, for the last eight years has toiled quietly to build his kava (piper methysicum) retail and export business in Sigatoka.
“I was really surprised when FDB called me to inform me that I was one of the nominees for the Wholesale and Retail category. The award is really good for my business because it gives recognition to this business I have built with my family. It also means that my hard work has paid off,”Janend said.
Originally from Durumoli in Sigatoka, Janend, his mother, Vidya Wati and his brother Ravinesh Kumar along with other family members moved to Nasau in 2004 aftersecuring a 10 acre lease. It is from here that he manages his stall at the Sigatoka market as well as his kava exports to Samoa and New Zealand. Janend sources his kava supply from the Navosa highlands, Labasa, Taveuni and Kadavu. Janend started exporting kava in 2006.
“I started with just selling kava from my stall at the Sigatoka market and this went very well as there was a lot of demand for kava here in the western division. At the back of my mind, I had always planned to export kava overseas.”
“Exporting is better for me because I can sell in bulk compared to retailing locally where I have to compete for market share. Here in the Sigatoka market, there are dozens of other kava retailers. With my overseas buyers I make sure there is consistency with both – the quantity and the quality of the kava supplied because this forms the core of my business.”
Janend exportsan average 600 kilogrammes ofkava to New Zealand and a further three tonnesto Samoaannually.He plans to expand his business furtherby securing additional markets overseas and increasing his volume of exports. With this in mind, he has sourced additional financing from the Fiji Development Bank late last year. He was provided financing underthe Import Substitution & Export Finance Facility (ISEFF), making him the first ISEFF client in Sigatoka for the bank. The financing enabled him to purchase a four wheel drive to assist with the transportation of kava from his suppliers, many of whom are remotely located.
The ISEFF is a Reserve Bank of Fiji facility available through the FDBto assist exporters as well as projects in commercial agriculture and the renewable energy sector obtain credit at a concessional rate of interest.
Export finance under ISEFF is available to both primary and secondary exporters. The facility also includes financing for the export of certain professional services such as architectural, engineering and maritime services.
Import substitution financing under ISEFF is available to new and existing agricultural businesses involved in growing selected commodities that will reduce Fiji’s reliance on importation of the same.
On his 10 acre farm, Janend also plants vegetable and root crops which are also sold in the Sigatoka market and by the roadside.
He continues to strive for better things such as becomingFiji’s biggest kava exporter. Fiji’s kava exports in 2011 stood at $5.10MM.