Friends from community groups and civil society organisations,
Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bula vinaka, namaste and greetings to you all.
Thank you for joining us today on this auspicious occasion.
Today, as you know, we remember the founder of the Tappoo Group, my father – Tappoo Kanji.
Today, we pay tribute to him for his tireless work, for his vision, humility and his sense of purpose.
On this day, which we now recognise as the Tappoo Founder’s Day, we celebrate his legacy.
It is a legacy that our mother, the late Ladhiben Tappoo, also played a prominent role in.
They showed us that there is no substitute for hard work.
Also integral to my father’s legacy was his humility and deep appreciation of Fiji’s diverse cultures.
He showed us that we should be accepting of all people; no matter their creed, age, ethnicity, level of education or economic background.
One of the ingenious ways my father helped us learn this was to place us in Christian schools in Sigatoka.
It was such experiences that fostered our respect for all.
To this day, this principle and that of hard work, fairness, integrity and honesty remain the ethos of our family.
These timeless values have helped build our family business into the reliable and respected brand it is today.
These values and our roots in our homeland Fiji have helped us to steer our family company in this fast-changing world.
Ladies and gentlemen.
The family company has come a long way since my father secured a small space where he tinkered and handcrafted the silver trinkets that were then the popular jewellery of the day.
That space was literally the corner of a wooden building not more than 10ft by
10ft. That’s just about 3 metres by 3 metres. A very small space indeed.
But what my father lacked in resources, he made up for in sheer determination, perseverance, passion and hard work.
He – inspired – all – of us.
Tappoo Kanji was the inspiration that fuelled our family’s vision and journey to success.
From that tiny work space, which we generally refer to as the first Tappoo shop, we have made giant leaps.
Today, the family business are proud owners and operators of two iconic shopping malls to serve the Fijian people, a state-of-the-art shopping experience at the Nadi International Airport, and it has established itself in a variety of industries.
These industries include shopping malls, retailing, wholesaling, manufacturing, exporting, tourism accommodation, travel, fuel and convenience retailing.
TAPPOO FOUNDER’S DAY
Therefore, ladies and gentlemen.
It is fitting for our family and our company, the Tappoo Group, to pause on this day and pay tribute to a great man.
This day – exactly 77 years ago – Tappoo Kanji started the family business.
It started with only our mother at his side to help him.
Then Bulou joined, and while he was my father’s first employee, he became a member of the family more than anything else.
Today though, the number of employees has increased to almost 1700 people.
We are very humbled by this.
Humbled because our progress means we are able to provide work for many and support the livelihoods of many more.
My father would have been most proud of this.
The employment of almost 1700 people would have meant more to him than any acquisition or property development.
I am certain of this because whenever he learned that we were employing more people – even if it was just one more person – he would become excited and happy.
Yes, he had a lot of empathy.
And he would always urge us to never forget our responsibility to our employees. Responsibility is integral to our vision, he would remind us.
For us, responsibility and profitability are not opposing forces.
On the contrary, they are interdependent.
We have long believed that for us to prosper – the communities in which we live in must also prosper.
That means we have a responsibility to our employees and to the communities we live in.
By the same token, in order to maintain long-term responsibility, we must ensure profitability. The two go hand-in-hand.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was thus quite normal for us to embark on charity work.
We have long supported and conducted charity work in the communities.
In 2006 – about four years before my father passed away- the family launched the Tappoo Foundation.
This Foundation has supported numerous charitable causes and projects, and every year is a new round of identifying where we can help.
Today the Tappoo Foundation unveils these beneficiaries on the anniversary of the company’s founding.
This occasion ties in with the significant achievement the Tappoo Group is very proud to have realised.
That achievement was the opening of TappooCity Lautoka.
At the official opening of the mall in January, the Tappoo Group committed $150,000 to the Foundation.
A total of 30 beneficiaries have been chosen.
These include special schools, youth champions, old-age homes, health missions, orphanages, NGOs for the assistance of rural communities, children with cancer, widows, disabled children, survivors of domestic violence, and many others.
Two schools special to our history are also included. They are Kavanagasau Sanatan Dharm School and the Sigatoka Methodist College.
Kavanagasau was the school which my father attended when he arrived in Fiji 1932.
He was only able to study for a very short period of a few months until my grandfather could no longer afford the tuition.
Such a fate was not to be ours.
Our father ensured this and we were all fortunate to be educated at Sigatoka Methodist School.
These schools, for obvious reasons, are special links to our heritage and will always remain so in our Foundation’s sights.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, each beneficiary will receive $5000 to assist in their work.
We believe that whilst our Foundation is providing much-needed support, the real heroes are the members and workers of these initiatives.
The Tappoo Foundation understands and believes that all of us can contribute to our vulnerable communities in many different ways – no matter how small.
The Government’s enabling welfare policies and initiatives – like free-tuition, free healthcare and medicine and subsidised water and electricity and so forth – should serve as an inspiration for us all.
As stakeholders in Fiji’s future, we can all lend a hand. And forging partnerships in such matters are critical to sustaining such efforts.
Every contribution counts. As a charitable trust, we understand this and how challenging it is for charitable organisations to make ends meet.
We are therefore confident that the Tappoo Foundation’s contribution will go a long way to help you in your service of others and that it will benefit those who genuinely need the assistance.
Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Foundation would like to sincerely commend the work of these 30 recipients. Your work to empower our people safeguards our present – as well as our future. Your selfless service and heightened awareness of others’ needs cannot be repaid.
Your daily demonstrations of sacrifice and hard work are invaluable.
Thank you for the work that you do.
Thank you for your humility. Thank you for the unity you sow.
And we thank you for your humanity. With these few words, I would like to close by wishing you all the very best in your efforts to serve the less fortunate. Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevuand Dhanyavaad.
Source: The Fiji Sun
Date: 24th August