Pacific women entrepreneurs to reach global markets
More Pacific businesswomen will soon be developing and selling their products globally, with help from the International Trade Centre.
More Pacific businesswomen will soon be developing and selling their products globally, with help from the United Nations International Trade Centre.
Its Economic Empowerment of Women in the Pacific project will focus on budding entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Samoa, to give them the capacity to export their goods.
Mary Baines reports.
The Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Arancha Gonzalez, says the Pacific has unique products like tapa cloth, coconut oil and bilum or string bags hand-made in Papua New Guinea, which could appeal to buyers around the world. She says the ITC's job is to advise and train producers on how to reach international markets.
ARANCHA GONZALEZ: Helping with capacity building, helping women entrepreneurs how to understand how to tap into finance, and the third one is bringing women entrepreneurs to markets, regional or international, it doesn't matter. The important thing is getting them to markets where they can sell their products or their services.
Ms Gonzalez says the ITC will pair bilum producers with designers at the London School of Fashion to help them with quality standards, and create business links between the hotel, tourism and food industries in Vanuatu to benefit women involved. It will also push companies in Samoa to tap into government legislation reserving part of public procurement for women's enterprises. Ms Gonzalez says it's about branding the unique products each Pacific nation has to offer.
ARANCHA GONZALEZ: How these artisan traditions that have been transferred from family to family for centuries now, so it's telling this, branding the specificities, this uniqueness that the islands have to offer, that in my view, it's there that lies a lot of where the islands can invest in value addition.
Ms Gonzalez says it's also about getting the most out of a product.
ARANCHA GONZALEZ: Not exporting the coconut, if you can export the coconut oil it's better. But if you can export the packaged coconut oil it's even better. So it is just investing in greater value addition domestically so that you can capture a greater amount of the value that these products are going to contribute to.
Ms Gonzalez says women entrepreneurs re-invest 90 percent of their revenue back into the communities and family, and play a vital role in Pacific economies and development. The Executive Director of Women in Business Samoa, Adimaimalaga Tafuna'i, says the project will provide opportunities for women to find markets more easily.
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: Things are very difficult especially to find things like your certificate of origin, when you're exporting. And for women rurally, that's really, really hard. So this is going to make it easier, the university is going to be able to teach the courses, and we'll be able to bring people within our network to those trainings as well.
Lufilufi Rasmussen, who owns Coffee Bean cafes and the Misiluki day spa in Samoa, is now developing her own skin-care range using local, virgin coconut oil, with the help of Women in Business. She says she has been working on the product for six years, and hopes she can export it by next year.
LUFILUFI RASMUSSEN: I'm hoping to have a high-end retail skin care. Samoans have always used coconut oil as their skin care and what I wanted to do was bring a point of difference there, you know, with all the benefits of coconut oil I always think it's taken a back seat over the many years. It's time to come into its own now.
The Australian government will contribute 2.8 million US dollars towards the ITC project.
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