The new decade has begun and with it, some exciting projects are in the making. After a little more than two months I can finally make it official: I have launched my own company here in Fiji: Pacific Media House. Its been quite a ride and required a lot (and I mean a lot) of documents to get this business operational. In a recent (2020) economic assessment, the World Bank Group lists Fiji on a staggering 163rd rank (out of 190 countries) in the “Opening up a business” category and on a slightly better 102nd rank for “The ease of doing business”.
All in all, surely not the best numbers but then again, I managed and that is all that counts. As there is not too much information available and I sometimes wished to have a little more guidance, here is a little summary of my experience with this whole process (for more details just shoot me a message).
Maybe another worthy mention is that I heard time again NOT to go down this road as it is expensive and will likely fail. Some even say it would be impossible unless one has a large sum of money (I heard everything from 100.000 FJD up to 250.000 FJD). Well, I can tell you that this is NOT true and it is always worth giving it a try. If you really want something, just work towards it make it happen. This might go beyond the scope of this blog post, but this is how I have always lived my life and the reason why I am where I am and do what I do.
For a foreigner, it all starts at Investment Fiji, a government branch that is responsible for any kind of investment and business opening in the country. Here, the idea or investment purpose is vetted and either approved or denied. This process took about two to three weeks and required – in my case at least – the proof of importance for Fiji as a whole. You should be able to answer questions, such as: “Why is your idea unique?” and “How does Fiji benefit from it?” and be able to provide a three-year financial projection.
If all goes well, you are good to go for the next steps.
Some of these steps may take several days to complete and often I had to run back and forth between places in order to make it work. The longest step of all these was the issue if the work permit/investor permit by the Department of Immigration. According to their website, this process should take a maximum of 21 business days but having handed in all required documents in the middle of December I anticipated it would take longer. Generally, December and January are slow months here in Fiji and administrative things seem to take even longer than normal.
Pacific Media House will provide services all-around photography and filmmaking. It mainly specializes in conservation storytelling / environmental photojournalism & tourism promotion. Head over to the page for some more information on how to work with us.
I am excited for 2020 and hope it will be a successful year for business as well as us personally. 2019 was full of surprises and a lot of very great twists and turns and professionally, it was -for sure and by far – my most successful year. Doing photography and film for a living is a hard and enduring job that requires a lot of persistence and patience. While I have plenty of the first, I surely lack a lot on the second. But at the same time – if it works – it is truly an amazing job. I get to see a lot of interesting places, beautiful countries, and get to go on very interesting assignments to create films or photographs. I am far from where I want to be, but I guess this is also a journey with no end. Any kind of self-employment requires a continuous dedication – at the end of the day, it’s my own ass that is on the line.
Last year has been amazing in many ways: Professionally, I got to complete environmental assignments for WWF-US, WWF-UK and WWF Pacific, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Pacific Community SPC, while on the tourism side created promotional content for several five-star resorts that are leaders in the luxury tourism market in the South Pacific. And personally, it was quite a year, too: we also moved into a new house in Suva together with another couple and adopted our beautiful little dog Kaia, from the local animal shelter SPCA (please if you have a few dollars or euros to spare donate!!).
Together with the Alliance Francaise here in Suva, I will be presenting my photo exhibition ‘BEING ALIVE’ from Thursday 30.01.2020 onwards. We selected about 25 images that will not only portrait the beauty of the Pacific islands environment but also its fragility.
Anthropogenic-derived threats, such as climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction are threatening ecosystems all around the world – including the Pacific region. In-depth captions will help to understand the importance of safeguarding our environment to keep receiving free and necessary ecosystem services that many might take for granted. If you live in Fiji, come by and have a chat!
Thursday, 30st of January at the Alliance Francaise in Suva! Come by for the opening!
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Tom Vierus is an award-winning photographer, filmmaker, and marine biologist based in Suva, Fiji Islands. This blog is dedicated to his assignments and to sharing some behind-the-scenes footage.