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Subsidy scheme – MSMEs urged to sign up on Vitikart platform

Small businesses have been urged to sign up on the Vitikart platform to take advantage of e-commerce opportunities provided by the existing platform, at a subsidised cost.

The Reserve Bank of Fiji, with the government and Vodafone Fiji Ltd, signed a memorandum of agreement on Friday last week, launching the Vitikart subsidy scheme aimed to assist MSMEs to list and sell their products online at a subsidised cost.

According to the RBF statement, Minister for Economy Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum thanked Vodafone and RBF for partnering on this facility and recognising the need to bring the business community and all Fijians into the digital space, thus contributing towards sustaining Fiji’s economy by creating jobs and supporting livelihoods.

“This initiative forms part of an overall holistic approach to support MSMEs and enable them to market and sell their products online,” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

“Currently, the ability to access payment gateways through traditional banks is expensive for MSMEs and therefore, Viti-Kart offers a viable and cost effective alternative.”

In the 2021/2022 National Budget, government had announced the $1.15 million facility, which will provide an affordable option for businesses to engage in e-commerce through an existing online platform without investing in costly infrastructure.

At the launch, RBF governor Ariff Ali stressed the importance of Fiji’s MSME sector in providing employment and income to Fijians in this COVID-19 environment.

“Leveraging e-commerce marketplaces such as VitiKart provides a timely opportunity for MSMEs to continue operating their businesses safely and sustainably while eliminating the need to invest in websites and dedicated online payment gateways for validating payments,” he said.

Vodafone Fiji regional chief executive officer Pradeep Lal said, “Vodafone Fiji is fully supportive of this initiative to assist any business that wishes to take its business online through the VitiKart e-commerce platform. With this partnership, there is a unique opportunity for businesses in Fiji to transition into becoming an online merchant.”

The scheme will wholly subsidise the monthly subscription fees of eligible MSMEs registered on VitiKart between the period August 01, 2021, and 31 July 2023, for a period of two years.

Mr Ali said the scheme supplemented other measures put in place by the RBF to assist MSMEs to access finance to support their businesses and aligns with ongoing efforts to encourage digital payments through the National Payment System reform project.