Project Everest

Experiment Results


Lean Phase: Problem

The purpose of this experiment was to narrow down on the pain-points of SMEs in Fiji and what blocks them from accessing financial solutions from traditional institutions. As can be seen below, this experiment proved that pain-points were much broader than we initially hypothesised, and thus we have validated a much broader range of pain-points in these results.

Original Assumption:

There are key barriers for small business owners accessing capital from traditional and established institutions in Fiji. These include:

  • Irregular income and individuals’ inability (or lack of preference)  to repay loans due to the inflexibility of payment schedules.

  • Individuals have an inherent distrust of financial institutions, leading to a preference of saving over financing.

  • Traditional institutions rarely give out access to finance below the level of $1000, making it difficult for business owners to access the capital they desire (which is less than this amount on average).

Results spreadsheet:

Master Results Analysis

SoCon defined capital as a tangible or intangible asset or solution, being either financial or non-financial. For a business to establish, maintain and/or grow, there must be a flow of capital.

Are people actively looking for capital?

  • 59.7% of people interviewed were either in the process of looking for capital or were looking for capital within the next year.

  • 14.8% were looking for capital less immediately (within 5 years).

  • 25.5% of the people interviewed were not interested in capital at all

Within our investigations, we found that 85% of Fijian small business owners surveyed had experienced at least one barrier to access capital from financial institutions. 15% of small business owners did not express any barriers to accessing capital, however only 5.4% of those surveyed actually successfully received a loan and were satisfied with the process.

What type of capital are people looking for?

  • 43.2% wanted both financial and non-financial capital.This was the highest percentage due to the fact individuals mostly had non-financial capital needs but were looking to finance this through financial capital

  • 36.9% wanted financial capital

  • 19.8% wanted non-financial capital

From our results, we distinguished the purpose of the capital was to predominantly grow or improve the individual’s business (93.9%). 3.5% expressed interest in establishing a business, whilst 1.8% of small businesses wished to resolve ongoing issues in their vocation. For the smallest portion (0.9%), interest laid in the maintenance of their business.

In each industry investigated, we broke down the types of capital that were most sought after. This can be found in the Master Result Document linked above in the following section: Experiment 1 > Non-Financial Capital > Types of non-financial capital businesses were seeking.

What are the barriers to accessing capital?
The biggest barrier overall was documentation at 53%. Within this we identified three separate categories.

  • Firstly, we found 40.27% lacked documents such as a business bank account, business license, or thought the process with the banks was long and difficult.

  • 35.57% stated difficulties with land titles, because of costly and lengthy processes and too much government bureaucracy (and land titles are necessary for a business license which is necessary in order to get a business loan as a farmer from FIs in Fiji).

  • Lastly, 32.21% lacked the payslips/income statements which are needed by financial institutions to apply for a loan.

The next overall barrier, at 29.53%, is the way loans are currently structured by financial institutions in the form of repayment schedules, rigidity and size of repayments. At 28.86% income generation being cyclical or fluctuating was identified as a pain point, while 27.52% of people surveyed wanted more process knowledge around loans.

NOTE: Many of those surveyed expressed more than one pain point. This is further explored in the master results document in the following section: Experiment 1 > Pain Points

Pain-points by industry:
The three industries investigated were then analysed to identify similarities and differences in pain points:

  • Agriculture’s most frequently expressed pain-point was the inability to get a loan because they did not possess a land title (70.67%) which is necessary for business registration. However this was not a pain-point for the other two industries at all (0%).

  • Retail's most frequently expressed pain-point was with repayments being too expensive (27.78%), which was also expressed by a large percentage of Agriculture (32%). However this was only Agriculture’s 7th most frequently expressed pain-point and so not as high a priority.  

  • Tourism’s most frequently expressed barrier to accessing capital was a lack of necessary documentation to apply for a loan (21.54%). However a larger percentage (24.62%) of business owners were not looking to grow their business at all within the Tourism industry.

  • All three industries shared a lack of access to necessary documentation such as business bank account or business licenses as one of their 3 most common pain-points (Agriculture 52%, Tourism 19.44% and Retail 21.54%).

Size and type of loans
88.73% of people who wanted financial loans wanted loans between $1,000-$5,000, with the most common loan types being $1,000 (24%), $5,000 (22%) and $2,500 (19%).

The type of non-financial capital that were sought after the most were: agricultural equipment (26.17%), more stock (10.07%) and diversification/ new stock (7.38%).


Overall, the results were not able to greenlight our original assumptions, as our hypothesised pain-points were not the most common experienced by our customer segment. However, we were able to validate other pain-points in accessing capital, shown by the fact that 71.81% of people identified with at least one pain point.

It is evident that the problem space is more multifaceted than we originally thought, as there was no singular pain-point that was experienced by over 60% of the total sample. Additionally the only pain-point that was experienced by over 60% of one individual industry was the issue of land titles which was expressed as a barrier to accessing finance by 70.67% of the agricultural industry, whereas it was not expressed by retail or tourism at all.

This means for SoCon to operate in the microfinance space of Fiji, our UVP and solution will need to be adaptable and address a range of barriers to accessing finance rather than focussing on individual shared pain-points.

Despite there being differing pain points for different segments, these results show that there is a market for some solution to bridge individuals to traditional institutions in Fiji as the current system is not enabling SME access to the capital they desire for their businesses.

The next move for Socon in Fiji will be to ideate on a UVP for this solution as to how we can bridge this gap between individuals and institutions. This could be in the form of loans/credit, and/or other solutions such as budgeting, cash flow management systems, or even simply systems to help businesses get access to correct documentation for financial access.

We do believe, however, that this UVP is not as simple as targeting only one issue, and will be multifaceted as is the problem space in Fiji.

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Rose Martin 3 months ago

Status label added: Experiment Results

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