THE Elefa Handicraft booth at the Trade Pasifika 2012 is among those that showcase women entrepreneurs and has attracted many visitors on the first day of the regional trade exposition.
Exquisite handicraft — finely woven bags, handmade earrings, necklaces and belts showing shiny shells displayed against the backdrop of a mat — meets the eye as one approaches the booth.
Lucia Guavis who runs the Elefa Handicraft Shop in the Marshall Islands is excited to be part of the Trade Pasifika 2012.
Ms Guavis has two main expectations from Trade Pasifika 2012.
"I hope that Elefa Handicraft's participation at the Trade Pasifika 2012 gets us more buyers," said Ms Guavis, who sells to overseas markets online. "I am also looking forward to meeting other entrepreneurs and private sector representatives to learn from them and also share my experiences with them."
Elefa Handicraft buys products from Marshallese artists and artisans, many of whom are single mothers or families whose only source of income is the sale of the handicrafts.
Elefa Handicraft employs four women aged 25-32.
Ms Guavis' attendance at the Trade Pasifika 2012 has been supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre.
Her advice to other women entrepreneurs is, "There are so many opportunities out there. We need to go out and grab these opportunities. We also need to learn from others and share with them."
The UNDP Pacific Centre, one of the partners of Trade Pasifika 2012, has also supported the participation of women entrepreneurs from the Solomon Islands.
Wendy Kanai from the Solomon Islands Women in Business Association is attending the Trade Pasifika 2012 and hoping to increase markets for the 150 members of the Solomon Islands Women in Business Association.
"I am very fortunate to attend Trade Pasifika 2012 and I hope to make linkages with members of the private sector and service providers present here to facilitate business for the members of Solomon Islands Women in Business Association."
Solomon Islands Women in Business Association became operational in April this year.
It is financed by AusAID's Pacific Leadership Programme, which is a partner in Trade Pasifika 2012. Trade Pasifika 2012 is sponsored by ANZ and has received support from Williams and Gosling, Air Pacific, Air Terminal Service, Fiji TV as well as the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The event has been organised by the Pacific Island Private Sector organisation (PIPSO) with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), AusAID's Pacific Leadership Programme, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, private sector representatives and the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Trade Pasifika 2012 was held at the Sheraton Fiji Resort in Denarau with more than 50 booths displaying produce and services from across the Pacific.