By PACNEWS Editor, Makereta Komai
NADI, 27 NOVEMBER 2014 (PACNEWS) —Two years after the first regional Women In Business conference in Fiji, almost 200 women entrepreneurs are in Nadi again this week to share stories of tangible business opportunities created from the first meeting in 2012.
Organised by the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation (PIPSO), the three day meeting provides a space for business women to connect and explore opportunities for their goods and services.
PIPSO Chief Executive Officer, Mereia Volavola told PACNEWS the first day of the conference was energized by the powerful stories of successful Pacific business women who have overcome all the odds to be recognised as business leaders in their communities and countries.
As you heard today, these women did not wait for the legislation or policies to change or rely on government hand-out. These women are resilient and have built their businesses, in some cases with no assistance at all. Their stories have inspired and motivated other women that they can also achieve that success.
Its good to be motivated and inspired but if it does not translate into something tangible, then this conference may well be just a talk fest. These women are walking the talk and impacting positively on the lives of peoples in their communities, said Volavola.
One business woman that has created a positive impact on the lives of women in her rural community of Gizo in Solomon Islands Western Province is Esther Tali Suti. Suti mobilised women in Gizo and her home island of Simbo to start a saving scheme. In five months, 270 women have banked SBD$100,000.
I encouraged the women to set up their personal bank account and save SBD$100 a day. This is a saving of about SBD$20,000 a year, Suti told women business entrepreneurs at the Sheraton Resort in Denarau.
Suti started her saving account from her humble chocolate cake and lemon juice business at the Gizo market. The simple savings account has grown to include over 200 women in the rural community of Gizo and Simbo.
Suti is the first woman in Solomon Islands to own a taxi business and has used her own money to construct a school for deaf children in Gizo.
We are not relying on free hand-out from government but use what we have to start our businesses. Women have the potential to contribute meaningfully to our communities and the nation as a whole.
Apart from empowering women in her own community, Suti, through networks created from the first Women In Business conference has reached out to the Women In Business in Samoa to assist her with designing Simbo traditional outfits.
Through this networking, we have a regional collaboration with Women In Business in Samoa to assist us with printing traditional designs on outfits.
Volavola said Sutis success is an example of the resilience of Pacific business women, who are becoming agents of change in their communities.
These are women who are not waiting around for handout. Whatever little capital and resources they have taken them to greater heights.
Sutis story shows that women economic empowerment is not based on charity. Women need to be engaged in meaningful economic activities. She didnt wait for donors or her government. She saw a business opportunity and went for it, said Volavola.
The Solomon Islands business woman had passion and commitment.
Do not forget the community share your assets and share your wealth with them. Suti used her own funds to set up a school for the deaf in her community. This is an example of passion and commitment, said Volavola.
Another successful and young entrepreneur that grew her business from the Women in Business Conference two years ago is Sukhia Tuimalealiifano Go, the Managing Director of the Gift Hutt (Fiji). Her business is a now leading wholesale and retail supplier of blocked and printed Pacific fabrics to major retail outlets and resorts in Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Go shared at the conference that she drew inspiration from Pacific business women that shared their stories in 2012.
The young and upcoming Fijian business owner has secured local and regional markets for her products in her two years of operation. Last month, she secured a niche market in Japan for her fabrics.
180 business women from around the Pacific including Australia and New Zealand are attending the second Women in Business conference at the Sheraton in Denarau, which ends on Friday.