Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ethnicity has a Significant Correlation to Business Success says Dr Mere Samisoni.

Written by Dr Mere Samisoni.
A mother, grandmother, astute business woman, an academic, wellknown elected politician in Fiji during PM Qarase's Government until coup 2006 by Frank Bainiramama. Dr Samisoni cites both 'Timmons’ Entrepreneurial Process Model' & the late Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna's famous 'Three Legged Stool' theory in her thesis, giving us a parallel view of both concepts. We congratulate Dr Samisoni for such a well written piece. It certainly has given us all an indepth insight & a perspective that can be well received in view of her valuable connections to Fijians & being a Fijian herself.
Vinaka. Luvei Viti Think Tank at VUW
International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group)/International Trade Centre Workshop on “Economic Opportunities for Pacific Women in Business” 15 -17 March 2010, Port Vila, Vanuatu.

Improving Economic opportunities for Pacific Women in Business.

“This presentation will draw on my experiences as a Member of Parliament, successful business woman, Doctoral Dissertation researcher and other relevant life experiences that have helped to shape my past actions and future intentions to increase the opportunities for potential and practicing business women, in Fiji and the Pacific.”

I would like to start with a well-known story from the Gospel of Matthew 25:14-30. This is one of my favorite stories from the Bible because it shows clearly that God gives us the ability to achieve should we choose to do so. I am sure you will recognize the story, known as the Parable of the Talents (or loaned money).
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a rich man traveling to a far
country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately
he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.
Through the Parable of the Talents, Jesus tells us that if you use what is given to you, you can multiply it even more. Interestingly for us, Jesus actually associates the quality of “faithfulness” here with a willingness to take business risks. Whether your talents are physical, intellectual, financial, moral/spiritual or relational, whatever is given to you, however small it is – steward it, invest in it, use it and multiply it. And you will gain back more.

One of the main themes of my presentation today is entrepreneurship. I want to outline the difference between ‘the business perspective’ and ‘the entrepreneurial perspective’. The
business perspective focuses purely on money. It is largely disconnected from the greater public good, or wider public values. The business perspective prioritizes money! Everything else is
secondary. The entrepreneurial perspective on the other hand, has a more holistic, integrated and strategic approach. It takes into account its customers’ values linked, for the empowerment of people. The entrepreneurial perspective acknowledges that people are a resource. It therefore focuses on opportunities that arise from change. But it views those opportunities from a holistic perspective - not only in terms of customer needs and desires, but also their values. And it harvests that information, to create intellectual capital, which can add value and even produce higher profits.

This holistic strategic approach that acknowledges the importance of human values, means the Entrepreneurial perspective will be far more in touch and in tune with the modern world, than the pure profit focus of the Business perspective. In focusing on valuing people (as opposed to purely money), three opportunities arise to support and sustain this perspective. These are leadership, innovation, and integrated markets (linked by data, information and
Leadership refers to two things: 1. Human resources in an Organization (i.e. recognizing talent through motivation, training, ward [Skinner 1971, 2002; Miner 1971, 1978]), and; 2. Leadership of the Organization that focuses employee efforts, business systems and process on customer
demand and values.
Innovation refers to innovation in products and use of resources, both financial and information.
Integrated Markets refers to access to market information based on market differentiation (which includes finding new markets within your customer base). I will discuss these in more depth throughout the presentation.

An entrepreneurial perspective will acknowledge that its production and existential activities are linked, to impact the surrounding world. These impacts happen on many levels: in the personal
sphere of the entrepreneur at individual level, in the organization itself and in the surrounding community. Therefore the entrepreneurial organization has an impact personally, nationally,
regionally and globally through leadership, information management and process levels. Throughout this presentation I will refer to these multi-level impacts (Gartner & Brush 2003), which are simultaneous and “wave-like” (Toffler 1980). This is also, known as “clustering and networking” Carlsson & Mudambi 2003; Bolton & Thompson 2004; Porter 1990, 2006; Drucker 2005, 2008; Morris, Kuratko & Covin 2008.

There is a lot of theory involved in the materials I will discuss here, but I don’t want to focus too much on the background theory, so please note there is a bibliography.

The world, in which we Pacific women in business operate today, is a very different one from what we grew up in. The proliferation of Information Communication Technology or ICT (Sexton and Landstrom 2000) has changed the world. Easier access to information, global markets and social networks in cyberspace, have all been catalysts offering opportunities to entrepreneurs to
innovate, using ‘human values as capital’ (van Praag 1996; Arendt, cited in Porter 2002; de Bruin and Dupuis 2003).
The business perspective accepts money as the only form of ‘capital’ that really matters. But under an entrepreneurial perspective, ‘capital’ is not only financial, but can also be social,
economic, technical, moral, ethical, spiritual, political and informational. The main issue is to figure out how to link up, cultivate, utilize and leverage this capital for added value priorities.

There is something else that is important with this entrepreneurial perspective. In fact it is a distinguishing characteristic of the entrepreneurial spirit. You may have heard the saying “There is no such thing as failure. There are only early attempts at success”. Entrepreneurs look at business opportunities in a way that allows them to fail, but in learning from that failure, it takes them one step closer to success. It is also highly entrepreneurial to always have an
exit strategy. That will help ensure you live to fight another day. If a plan does not work, try something new. The ability to fail and start again by learning from the business disappointments in the market is a key process to sustaining successful business practice.

To give you a practical example of this, look at Hot Bread Kitchen, my own company. People look at Hot Bread Kitchen as a successful organization, and that is what we are. But we are successful
because all along the way we have had little failures from which we have been able to recover, learn with positive reinforcement and keep moving forward.

A common problem in the Pacific, something I am sure every person in this room has faced, is theft. Sadly, it happens. When it happens in my company, we have learned from past mistakes and developed a system of managing the tangibles as well as the intangibles – the what’s and the why’s.
We have positive reinforcement for those employees who work hard and do not steal. For those who do steal, we have a very strict but fair counseling and discipline procedure. We do it this way because human values are important. You look after the good in your people and they will look after you. You are fair to them, and they will be fair to you. It is called role modeling.
This human resource management philosophy may sound simple here in this room, but putting it into practice day in day out must be a conscious process that is followed up within the company on a daily basis.

This inculcation and reinforcement of positive values at the grassroots is significant since entrepreneurship itself is nothing if not the triumph of human values (persistence, improvement) over the volatility of the market.

Now a worldwide phenomenon, entrepreneurship entails the idea that there are certain persons, perhaps only about 5-10% of the general populace, who, due either to natural make-up or
environmental upbringing, are dreamers, planners and, most importantly, innovators. They universally possess the drive, the focus and the resourcefulness to get a project from dream to
business plan, to financial backing to implementation. And they have the resilience to persistently pursue this process, through failure after failure, but always learning, until they hit commercial ‘pay dirt’. They build ‘win-win’ relationships within the business context to sustain business success. From this core value, evolve emotional intelligence or maturity (Naboro-Baba 2006; Goleman 1998; Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee 2002) to an authentic leadership style (Goffee & Jones’ 2000, 2005) that is positive, entrepreneurial and dynamic.

am an elected Member of Parliament of the Government of Fiji. As you all know, our government was illegally deposed in a military coup-d’etat in 2006. My countrymen and women, both at home and abroad, look forward to the day when Fiji returns to democracy. As a member of Parliament, my life skills and experiences working with indigenous peoples in Australia and New Zealand, were invaluable in helping me gain insights into the plight of indigenous peoples in a westernizing world, and how we can best lift ourselves above the dependent poverty line.
How, can we, empower our poor? You will have heard the saying ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for one meal. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.’ Fiji’s legally elected overnment, with its multi-party cabinet, had in place strategic development plans to achieve this. According to the current illegal military regime, these plans were “racist” and they are fond of accusing our
elected government of racism.

The same leadership style, of raping our democratic human right to elect our representatives in Parliament continues today through media censorship, human rights abuses, Public Emergency
Regulations, dismantling of the Great Council of Chiefs, prohibitions on the Methodist Church, and governing by illegal decrees to name a few. The aim of the IIR is to remove race-based politics. The IIR is practicing negative reinforcement. One of the main pillars of my
thesis rests on the work of Skinner (1971) who argued for the benefits of positive reinforcement over negative reinforcement.

Let me explain an important point, because it is as relevant in your own countries as it is in Fiji. Race and ethnicity is important to personal identity. Race, or ethnicity, is a fact of life. It is an
objective reality that can be counted, measured and incorporated in the strategic business plan.

Race is a reliable demographic differentiator for national statistics in research and development design. It is vital, to form strategic development plans or Affirmative Action policies. In my Doctoral research, which I will touch on later, I proved that ethnicity has a significant correlation to business success by employment, profit and survival of the firm.

Racism, on the other hand, is subjective and basically boils down to an unfounded belief that races can be intrinsically inferior or superior to one another. Likewise, racism can also contend that a person is inferior or superior by virtue of their race.

In Fiji, there are two main races: Indigenous Fijians (58%), Indo-Fijians (37%) and the 5% balance is made up of minority groups including Europeans, Part-Europeans and other Pacific Islanders. Fiji’s market rests on a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multireligious base with distinct cultural and ethnic preferences.

The statistics for Indigenous Fijians (IF) are appalling. In the Ministry of Health Report 2004, infant mortality (IM) for IF, in the decade from 1993 – 2003, rose from 58% to 69.8%. In other
words, 69.8% more indigenous babies were dying in their first year of life than 10 years before. By contrast, Indo-Fijian IM fell from 37.6% to 26.6% during the same period. In 1994, IM accounted for 42% of all deaths. By 2003, 83.2% (83%) of all deaths were due to
These types of statistics are crucial to finding a way to beat poverty.

Similar patterns were identified in other areas of health for IF: HIV and Aids rose between 1989 and 2004 by 84%; 91% of reported Gonorrhea cases in 1995 and 84% of reported cases in 2004; 88% of syphilis in 1995 and 87% in 2004. These depressing statistics are echoed again in prison population demographics, to show that we IF are in crisis.
Meanwhile, the IIR is trying to eradicate ethnic measurement from all systems of government. This “head in the sand” approach is not any kind of solution. At worst, it could become a form of virtual ethnic cleansing by omission, because whether the regime bothers to monitor or ignore it, our situation will only get worse. We are neither inferior nor superior to any other race. We have strengths and weaknesses, but without interventionist type policies (Verhuel, Audretsch, Thurik & Wennekers 2002), we are in trouble and will continue to be a source of political instability and a liability to the state, and therefore the region.
We know from examples overseas that interventionist type policies can work. For instance, in North America, in 2008 the Centre for Women Business Research (CWBR) announced 10.1 million Women-Owned Firms (WOF - 50% or more owned by women) employed 13
million people and generated $2 trillion in annual revenue. Thesefirms represented 40% of all firms or corporations in the USA. Many of these firms could credit affirmative action policies as either helping to grow, or even start, their businesses.
In April 2009, new data collected by CWBR showed that Women of Color (WOC) owned 2.3 million businesses, representing 1.7million employees and generating $239billion in annual revenues. But these firms are not achieving the same level of success when measured by revenue and employment. WOC business have great un-tapped potential for economic and social impact that will only be realized once research can clearly identify the specific challenges
faced by WOC, and develop targeted programmes and policies to remove those barriers.

The Strategic Development Plans (SDP 2002-2011), which our elected government of Fiji had introduced, cataloged the needs of those it intended to help by their race. The plans did not exclude other races. I will say that again. THE PLANS DID NOT EXCLUDE OTHER RACES. All disadvantaged communities in Fiji were specifically addressed under the Social Justice Act 2001 and the 1997 Constitution (now purportedly abrogated). The illegal regime’s accusations of racism against our elected government are disingenuous, over-played, and are simply a propaganda, a red herring to distract from their own illegality and illegitimacy. Denying ethnicity in this context is as wasteful as taking your one talent and burying it.

I had always enjoyed school, and in my nursing studies I was a very enthusiastic student. But, family came first, and so my academic studies were put on hold. After the children had all left home and the Hot Bread Kitchen was well established, I felt the time was right to give myself another shot at academic studies. I took business studies units at the University of the South Pacific, and enrolled in the first Master of Business Administration cohort. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it wasn’t enough for me and a few years after that I was able to enroll for the Doctorate of Business Administration studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. My dissertation looked at the success factors of entrepreneurs and I was able to identify 185 universal success factors and their local market indicators for Fiji. I wanted to show why it is that some business people succeed where others do not. I used Timmons 1999
Entrepreneurial Process Model as a basis for the research and found it dovetailed nicely with Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna’s indigenous social model for Fijian knowledge (epistemology), language and culture, known as the Three Legged Stool (1980).

My dissertation is available to whoever wants to read it, but basically my main findings of universal success factors that are relevant for Fiji entrepreneurs, are: employment; turnover/profit; ICT leverage; innovation; opportunity; source of capital; loan equity
to capital; loan structure of the firm, motivation (satisfaction, own capital, work from home, own boss); type and size of business; age of firm; religion; products; and communication.
Local market indicators, which measure these universal success factors, are: education type and level; race/ethnicity; diversity and emergence of markets; religion; pricing policy; teambuilding
leadership management styles, and; board of directors experience.
Success factors and their market indicators highlight the good business practices and qualities that integrate these important factors into the strategic business plan and its exit strategy.

For these reasons, the main characteristics of successful organizations, identified for Fiji are: high-tech/high-growth/highmoral firms with a turnover range from $50,000:00 to $1.9M per
annum; employ a range of 1-99 staff; and target a gross profit margin of 20-49%.
Given that Indigenous Fijians (IF) make up 58% of the population and own 93% of land and sea resources, leveraging the strengths and social networks of IF cultural, ethnic and religious society, will open up market opportunities and differentiate competitive advantage. Certainly, the prospects for leadership, innovation and market opportunities in State, Indigenous and Community Entrepreneurship (de Bruin & Dupuis 2003) are achievable in the context of Fiji’s pre-coup SDP (2002-2011)

Figure 1.3: The entrepreneurial process model [Refer original pdf file]
Timmons’ Entrepreneurial Process Model recognizes the internal “brand value” of trust based relationships, from soft social capital (van Praag 1996). It interfaces in the vernacular with Ratu Sukuna’s three-legged stool. The legs represent: 1. Kalou (God or spiritual identity and transcendent values that build win-win relationships, teams and leadership); 2. Matanitu (government or administrative leadership to access market opportunity)and 3. Vanua (land and sea resources, accessed through information and finances).

If implemented in a proper business plan, Ratu Sukuna’s social model has potential to leverage the collectivist/holistic culture and knowledge base of the IF market via its own social capital
foundation into a more entrepreneurial dynamic within the Internet age. This will be, to both Fiji’s, and the IF’s competitive, comparative and collaborative advantage (Porter 2006; OECD
2007). In this process, Skinner (2002) like Ratu Sir Lala (1980) recommended cultural literacy as key to understanding and tolerance between ethic groups.
My finding on race or ethnicity (Samisoni 2008) was significantly correlated with business success by employment, profit and survival of firms. Gender was not significant though.
The significant correlation of race/ethnicity and religious diversity to entrepreneurial business success in Fiji should be celebrated. It needs to be viewed as a metaphor of eco-biodiversity where all life has a place in an “open friendly system and environment” where “win-win” relationships predominate to benefit public good.

I learned about freedom of choice and empowerment from early childhood, watching my divorced mother cope with 6 children on a meager £6 a month family allowance from my father. My dear mother’s upbringing was based on bible teachings and principles of Christian love, since she herself only attended formal school education up to class 3. My grandparents on Mother’s side were lay preachers, of Tongan and English ancestry.

My mother’s moral and spiritual “soft” capital has stood me in good stead throughout my life – from the dusty paths of the village, to my studies overseas, to raising my own family, to running my own business, and to representing my constituents in Parliament. My mother taught me important lessons about human values.

If there is one thing I would want you to remember about my talk, it is that human values have a vital place in the world of business today. The old paradigm, where money is seen as the be-all and end-all, is coming to an end. Innovation and understanding of markets based on human values, brings a moral compass back into our business decision-making process. It centers and balances the “risks and benefits” to sustain our humanity in the business model.

In closing, the one piece of advice I would give you today is on authentic Leadership. “Always be true to yourself first”. Stephen R. Covey’s (2005) quote, comes to mind. He said, "Putting first things first means organizing and executing around your most important priorities. It is living and being driven by the principles you value most, not by the agendas and forces surrounding you."
8. Thank you, Tenkiu tru, Tanggio tumas, Tank yu tumas, Malo, Mahalo, Fa’afetai tele, Ko rabwa, Sulang, Kanlangan, Faka’aue, Dhan bhat and Vinaka.
Samisoni 2008, Factors Influencing Entrepreneurial Success In Fiji:
What are their implications? Thesis URL site: 66


  1. The 3 pillars of Lotu, Vanua, Matanitu are seemingly outdated premise, that uses and abuses the lowest common denominator-the people. It was fine and dandy for Ratu Sukuna to be preaching that sermon because he is part of the system of entitlement. With all due respect to Mere Samisoni and her Phd in Business Admin, it is rather ironic that she trying to merge business model into Ratu Sukuna's social strata where there is little to no social progress.

    It is time the people of Fiji learn to think for themselves-not political players; for a mind is a terible thing to waste.

  2. Anon 24/3/10: 1:51 AM
    Whilst you see Ratu's Sukuna's model of 3 pillars being an 'outdated premises', many Fijian will differ with that view. The concept alone was the brain-child & mooted by an eduacted Fijian/High Chief at the time. Too many foreigners are writing Fijian history & not Fijians themselves. Though Ratu Sukuna's model may have had some flaws it nevertheless formed an integral component of who Fijians are & how affairs of Fijians have been managed. It worked to a degree & it needed more educated Fijians to test it for themselves, certainly not foreigners as that will be fatal as is the case now. Too many are putting their fingers in the Fijian pie & not allowing the Fijians themselves to decide what works and what does'nt for them.

    Ratu Sukuna, as a Statesman, helped by Colonial Office saw the danger that had enveloped Fiji after settler societies post Deed of Cession. As noted in Fiji Census of 1996, population in Fiji as at 1881, rated top fives as 1.Fijians,2. Pacific Islanders, 3.Europeans, 4.Rotumans, 5. Part Europeans. By 1901, [20yrs later] Indian settler society imploded to a staggering number of 17,105 from 588 at 1881. It did not stop there, It continued to increase drastically that it became a threat to other races in Fiji at the time. Fiji's problems began in earnest then and certainly was not the fault of Ratu Sukuna & others who worked tirelessly to find solution to the problems that it had found Fiji in and which continues to today. As a point of interest, it will be interesting to track how many of these settler society from India were Fiji borns & how many migrated into Fiji and were not really indentured labourers? Ratu Sukuna being a visionary saw These new settler society were on a fast track mode & it irritated them that Fijians were so laid back. Records stipulates these Indian settlers were too restless. Here is a classic example of two different races at loggerheads as early as 1900s. Its a wonder Colonial Office & Fijian Administration at the time pull the breaks.

    To blatantly blame Ratu Sukuna for the use & abuse, is indeed to destroy what the Fijians have held dear for such a long time. So our question, what then are your motives?

    We still applaud Dr Samisoni for making reference to this as it was an idea by 'Ai Taukei' & not one that can be claimed by either a western thinker or an Indian one for that matter as the cases are with Fijian history.

    To say, in your words, 'uses & abuses the lowest common denominator-the people', is indeed a long shot. Many Fijians have grown up upholding Ratu Sukuna's model & which held Fiji together over a good long period during & after Colonial era. It is indeed unfair to throw such lines as you now state that grassroots Fijians suffered in the process. That is for the Fijians to say for themselves not a foreigner echoing those words as you appear to be, judging from your approach.

    Dr Samisoni, through her struggles of being a Fijian woman, a mother, grandmother etc has risen to the challenges and has come through a winner by gaining her doctorate. After all she is one of those few Fijian women that can now comfortably share her scholarly piece. With her success she will assist as evident in her presentation above, to rebuild Fiji as well as give hopes to those men & women of Fijian/Melanesian/Pacific storck.

    Dr Samisoni, obviously is capitalizing on her scholarly work & not her political clout to assist her people and bring them upto speed with the changes in modern world. Fijians will use Dr Samisoni as a role model to achieve higher goals.
    God bless the Fijians in their effort to make sense of these so called 'lolly scrabble happening in Fiji.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Response from Dr Mere Samisoni:
    My response to anonymous is, we live in a market information economy, today. This means that in order to succeed in any sector of the modern economy, we need to know our markets and customers. Under Ratu Sukuna’s leadership and vision these should have been done but he was a man before his time. Through research methodology today, we know how to implement Ratu Sukuna’s vision by differentiating the markets laterally and segmenting them vertically in order to serve and sustain the valued customer while changing and adding value to the environment and economy.
    So, we know market information that will facilitate “win-win” relationships based on trust within a universal holistic framework where strategy making links customer human values from diverse markets. The entrepreneurial process as defined by Timmons’ (1999) and Ratu Sukuna (1980) is the tool to achieve this goal. In this model, process not personality, links customer and new customer markets to value chain management facilitated by World Bank administrative structural reforms in the Pacific Development Plan (2005), Millennium Development Goals via PICTA, PACER, EPA etc. On the supply side worldwide, this is to address increasing poverty and violence levels, environmental degradation and the world financial crises due to greed, that is impacting the Pacific.

    To understand this new dynamic and model requires a new mind set as the old one, expressed by anonymous is outdated that only sees problems and therefore, not the opportunities, where systems and processes are linked and sustained by human values.

    In this regard there is a very basic flaw in anonymous’ mindset. It is represented clearly in tone and text that disconnects in “piece-meal, inefficient, ineffective and unproductive impact. It is due to the stereotype negative reinforcements as noted in his critical quote below.

    “it is rather ironic that she trying to merge business model into Ratu Sukuna's social strata where there is little to no social progress. It is time the people of Fiji learn to think for themselves-not political players; for a mind is a terible thing to waste”.

    Additionally, I wonder why anonymous is hiding behind a non-deplume brand. This practice violates the values of the digital market civilization, where trust is core, during uncertainty and ambiguity.

    It works like this during change, there is uncertainty and ambiguity therefore more market information is required to answer the basic “who, what, why, when and how” questions for process learning, development and progress. Furthermore, the Interim Regime Military Junta Government practices the same style, with decrees suppressing market information.

    Like Luveiviti, I question anonymous’ motives.
    Dr. Mere Tuisalalo Samisoni elected SDL member for Lami Open Constituency (deposed 2006).

  5. I have this website its good.It cantains lots of information about work from home


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