Business large and small, tech-focused and agriculturally based were recognised at the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 4th annual Business Excellence Awards on Saturday.
Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands received the Bred Bank Business Contribution to the Community Award and the Prime Minister’s Business Excellence Award.
After accepting the Prime Minister’s award, KPSI Managing Director Bob Pollard highlighted the contribution of rural families to the company’s operations.
“We receive the award on behalf all our hardworking families that are living in different parts of some of the far corners of the country who don’t enjoy some of the privileges of Honiara life,” he said. “This is really their award.”
KPSI aims to improve village livelihoods through the production of virgin coconut oil and other coconut products. Local workers collect the coconuts, and the company’s invention of Direct Micro Expelling technology to extract the oil allows the process to take place on a small scale in local communities.
Mr Pollard said the Prime Minister’s award will bring the company recognition as it continues to expand.
“Our big challenge in the future if we’re going to scale is just to be able to sell overseas, and so there’s a lot of work to be done to be able to do that,” he said.
QBE Insurance was the runner-up for the Prime Minister’s Business Excellence Award.
Other winners included Mathias Loji, managing director of the Island Sun, as Entrepreneur of the Year; Pacific Tenders as New Business of the Year; and Solagro as the Strongim Bisnis Agribusiness of the Year. GPPOL was named Large Business of the Year, and Tower Insurance took the award for Small Business of the Year. Kramer Ausenco received the Innovation & Technology Award.
Before the awards ceremony, Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare gave a speech to attendees. Dame Meg Taylor, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, delivered the keynote address.
In his speech, SICCI Chief Executive Officer Dennis Meone described the private sector as a beacon of hope as well as an engine of growth.
He talked about the need for the business community and all other levels of society to work together to advance the nation.
“In order to face our challenges and work towards a better Solomon Islands, we must be willing to learn, unlearn, and relearn,” Mr Meone said. “We must show leadership and demand leadership. Knowing that things could be worse should not stop using from striving to make them better.”