Lesson of entrepreneurship

US-based Fiji model Phillipa Steele. Picture: FT FILE

WHEN Kai-Viti Water was launched back in 2009, its primary objective was to provide employment opportunities for Fijians and at the same time further put Fiji on the world map.

Since then the bottled water company based along the Coral Coast of the Nadroga/Navosa Province, Kai-Viti Water has been selling to the US market.

With no added chemical, director Paul Phillips said Kai-Viti Water was natural artesian sourced from the Marou mountains.

This week, Kai-Viti water also partnered with international model and Kulukuku lass, Phillipa Steele to become its first brand ambassador.

For Ms Steele it gives her sense of ownership knowing she is representing not only her family but also her province and Fiji.

“It just feels great, and I am so happy to be representing everyone and plus I have my whole family who support me and it’s been really great.”

When was Kai-viti water launched?

“Irshad and I first began discussing this opportunity in 2009 and incorporated in Fiji in the middle of that year.

“It took several years to complete the government requirements to launch the business (lands department, mineral resources department, environmental impact study, etc.).

“Then we built our bottling facility and installed bottling equipment,” said Mr Phillips.

“We started production of water as a co-packer for another company in Fiji which helped us learn the bottling process well and develop quality standards.

“We launched our product on shelves in the US with three large retailers as a way to test our product learn.

“We also did small tests in the local Fiji market. “As a result, we changed our label, bottle shape and brand focus resulting in what Kai-Viti water is today.

“So to directly answer your question, we launched Kai-Viti Water with the benefit of years of hard work and learning earlier this week.”

It has been a great lesson in entrepreneurship.

“This is also consistent with the fact that my partner and I have self-funded the company (i.e. not taken on any outside investors) which gives us the benefit of working slowly and methodically to build a long-term sustainable business.”

A brief description of operations

“Our bottling facility is located in Maro, close to Natadola.

Our water comes from an underground aquifer and we don’t add or subtract anything from the water — this qualifies our water as natural artesian water.

“The water is piped into our facility where it is bottled and packaged.”

Company objective

“Our objective is to build a strong and viable business that benefits the people and country of Fiji.

“We believe we can best achieve this by offering consumers in the US a high-quality product that is fairly priced, but with a compelling brand.

“As we develop our brand we will focusing on highlighting the wonderful attributes of the people and country of Fiji.

“For example, an annual Gallup poll consistently ranks Fijians as the happiest people in the world — we think ‘exporting’ the values and cultural nuances that drive happiness to consumers in the US will create enormous value.

“I think about our water product as a medium to enrich the lives of consumers in the US and add value to Fijians.

“Our efforts have obviously brought more jobs and investment to Fiji which are both crucial for the development of the country.

“However, we have undertaken projects to help economically disadvantaged children have the resources to go to school, provided clean water in the aftermath of cyclones, support local health initiatives and community development events.

“We are committed to the success and well-being of Fijians.”

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