Women handicraft and market entrepreneurs focus on locals

By Vilimaina Naqelevuki, Pacific Women.

Women’s markets provide an opportunity for micro-entrepreneurs to sell their wares, share best practices and network during this COVID-19 response period.

Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Chair of the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC), highlighted this during the WEBC market in partnership Pacific Women and the Fiji Women’s Fund (the Fund) as a part of this week’s annual Fiji Reflection and Learning Workshop.

Ms Naidakuitavuki said more than 20 vendors were selling an array of items from woven baskets and hand-made jewellery, to cushions and essential oils at the market, held in Suva at the Grand Pacific on 20 October.

‘We need to create a lot of markets for these women going forward just so there’s a platform for these women to come sell their wares, share best practices especially during this pandemic,’ she said.

Reina Reddy, shows the doTERRA essential oils she had on sale at the at the WEBC market. Photo credit: Vilimaina Naqelevuki, Pacific Women Support Unit.

Renita Reddy, a vendor from Lautoka, said the pandemic was a driving force behind her increasing social media promotions of her essential oils.

‘I found that advertising on social media was very powerful because most of the customers who came to my stall during this market day knew about it from social media,’ Ms Reddy said.

She said her personal interest in doTERRA brand essential oils started 24 months ago, but her business was set up in March this year.

‘I started my business right when COVID-19 hit Fiji and what I did was try to scale back on my start-up costs and try to make it as cost-effective as possible,’ she said.

She said essential oils had always been a preference for her, however, she encourages her customers to do some research on its benefits.

‘It should really serve as a purpose for them and if it definitely fits your life then there are multiple ways these essential oils could be used for, it’s a healthier option,’ she said.

Ms Mere Roden, Executive Officer of the Spinal Injury Association (SIA) of Fiji, said the market provides an opportunity for women with disabilities in their association to learn new skills and earn money.

Mere Roden showing the wares created by the women of the Spinal Injury Association of Fiji (SIA) at the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) market. Photo credit: Vilimaina Naqelevuki, Pacific Women Support Unit.

The women from SIA created curtains, bed sheets, sarongs, children’s dresses, cushions, pillows, scrunchies and peg bags to sell during the market.

‘We would like to acknowledge the Fund for providing skills training for us because now we’re able to train other women in their own homes and at our centre at Brown Street in Suva,’ Ms Roden said.

She said providing these training opportunities for people with disabilities was important since it encouraged them to focus on the abilities they possess.

‘We see that it is very important because a person with disability, people would always say that we are marginalised and people look at our disability and not the ability or capabilities that we have,’ she said.

‘For us this matters. We share our skills and disseminate learnings with our colleagues at the Fiji National Council for Disabled Persons complex and also with other women aren’t able to come to the complex daily.’