A group representing Solomon Islands business women is hoping plans to operate a daily flea market in the capital will soon be approved.
The non-government organisation, Solomon Islands Women in Business Association, or SIWIBA, currently operates a market for its members at the arts gallery premises in Honiara once every two months, but hopes to extend this to satisfy a growing list of would-be vendors.
The President of SIWIBA, Rose Usukana, told Beverley Tse many of its 450 members are looking for business opportunities without start-up capital.
ROSE USUKANA: The whole idea is to have a venue, a physical space where women can come together and showcase and sell their services or products. And that has been happening. And women are so excited about it.
BEVERLEY TSE: And how many stalls are there so far?
RU: The previous flea market, we had 54 stalls, the recent one we had 74.
BT: So it's growing?
RU: It is. It is.
BT: Do these women have to be registered companies?
RU: These women, most of them who are taking part in the flea market, they don't have registered businesses yet. It's tough, but we have to encourage them first, generate something before they go into businesses, because they can't get any money, start-up capital anywhere.
BT: So where is this held, this market?
RU: We hold it at the arts galleries opposite the Central Bank of Solomon Islands. So that space is owned by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. We are currently communicating, if possible, to have the space for seven days a week.
BT: Are these women making the profit they set out to make?
RU: Yes. I think the takings are good. We also do a survey, like feedback survey, at the end of the flea market which women fill in to show how much they earned. Some say $4,000, $3,000 and that. So the flea market is arranged for three days and our women are making full use of it.
BT: And what sort of products do they sell at this market?
RU: Women in business, like we have our businesses categorised under 'food', so women sell food, clothing, handicrafts, flowers and potted plants, and we also sell other things like jewellery and stuff, yeah.
BT: Now you've mentioned you're hoping to get this flea market going seven days a week. Where is that process at, at the moment?
RU: We are currently leasing with the ministry concerned, which is the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and also talking to our ministry, which is the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs, for a common understanding and dialogue.
Rose Usukana says SIWIBA hopes an agreement will be reached by the end of the year.