Yet experts and officials say that while many of Fiji's
subsistence farmers and workers are facing tough times, they don't
expect the cyclone's impact on the larger economy will be major or
Government infrastructure in the capital Suva was also spared,
and aid money and rebuilding work will provide economic
What's really devastating though, is the loss of homes and
We wanted to get a first-hand account of what business is like
now in Fiji, two months after Cyclone
Winston, and what effect the cyclone has had on the garment
Adeshni Pratap, Fiji's based Business Manager at Image Label
Systems for her views.
What businesses were most affected and how have they
managed the recovery process?
The worst affected areas
were in Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Rakiraki and the smaller outer
islands of Koro. Fortunately, the major players in Fiji's garment
manufacturing were not so badly affected and were able to resume
production within a couple of days after the cyclone hit. Although
there had been power outages, they were not as severely affected as
the other islands, although staff members' families were
What's the feeling in Fiji amongst the people now two
months after cyclone Winston and how are they coping with trying to
work and rebuild their lives?
Tropical cyclones are not new to
Fijian people and they are accustomed to cyclones - having
grown up with them. Some bring showers, some bring flooding and
others come and go. But Winston was different and left tens of
thousands of people homeless with the real number still
This is why the people of Fiji understand that life goes on
after a natural disaster. They don't mope around, wondering 'why
us' - they see what needs to be done and they get on with it.
Fiji has a history of bouncing back from adversity and despite
the massive devastation caused by Cyclone Winston they were quick
to respond to the challenge and move forward.
In no time at all the Fijian positive spirit saw them plunging
quickly into the relaunch of their lives and buildings.
The response from the
Fiji Government was heartening and along with support from New
Zealand, Australia and other countries, NGO's, private companies
and religious organisations all offering assistance, the massive
mission to rebuild schools, homes and businesses was soon underway.
It is a humbling experience to see the human spirit in action, not
just amongst these small communities but on a global scale.
How does Fiji maintain their reputation for consistency and
fast turnaround and continue to fulfill production orders for brand
owners in the face of something like this?
Fijian garment industry has developed a reputation not only for
ethical manufacturing, but also consistency, reliability, fast
turnaround and in particular, flexibility with small orders. These
factors, combined with flexible delivery times, competitive pricing
and the reliability of a near sourcing partner for its main markets
of New Zealand and Australia, makes Fiji a more attractive as
production methods and needs change.
Customers have always been given assurance that in spite of
recent events, they are not at any higher risk in the Pacific with
the weather being predictable. Although it has been a big challenge
to pick up after such a catastrophe, the garment industry worked
long and hard to get back on track.
This is a peak production time for Fiji now, particularly for
sports clothing and school uniforms and for the most part most
customers haven't experienced delays. This has sent a clear,
reassuring message to overseas clients that the garment production
industry is well and truly back in full swing.
Everyone is doing their bit to help
Reflecting on Fiji's apparel industry, Fiji has weathered its
own "perfect storm" back around 2000. The second political
coup, the diminishing preferences of favourable tax and tariffs in
Australia, New Zealand and US, and the rising strength of China,
Bangladesh and Indonesia's clothing producers, nearly wiped out the
"The mantra that has helped revitalise the industry is
based on specialised products, niche industries, producing smaller
volumes" says Kaushik Kumar, Chairman of the Textile Clothing and
Footwear Council (TCF) of Fiji and Managing Director of United
People from all over the world have donated money to the relief
fund, wanting to help their fellow man and at times like this the
best in humanity is bought out.
The garment industry has
been active in Fiji for a long time, and Image Label
Systems has been
supporting the industry there since the mid 1990's.
The team at Image Label Systems were amazing and the commitment
and positivity they demonstrated was truly inspiring and showed the
true resilience of the Fijian people.
If you would like to donate to the relief effort, we recommend
using the Red
You'll find instructions on how to donate here: