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Partnership to benefit women

Filipe Naigulevu
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

WOMEN from coastal communities in Yasawa and Ra are expected to benefit from a new private sector partnership that would see more improved income opportunities and sustained livelihoods.

A new partnership forged between local company Essence of Fiji and Australian-funded Market Development Facility (MDF) seeks to develop a sustainable sourcing model for procuring nama from women collectors in the Yasawa Islands and Ra.

This is for the development of a premier skin-care range, Nama of Fiji made from nama, a local edible seaweed otherwise known as sea grapes.

The partnership outlines MDF's assistance in helping the company develop a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy.

This is to better market their spa and skincare range to a wider international market and local tourism markets.

Essence of Fiji, which specialises in producing locally-made spa and beauty care products for the tourism sector, formalised the partnership MDF on Monday at their rejuvenation centre in Nadi.

The signing of the second partnership coincided with Australian High Commissioner to Fiji Margaret Twomey's visit to the site.

The visit also reiterated the Australian Government's support in creating sustainable livelihoods, boosting growth and creating jobs through partnerships with local businesses across Fiji's tourism, horticulture and export processing sectors.

Ms Twomey said she was hopeful that the partnership with Essence of Fiji would see more rural women and their families improve their income opportunities and achieve more sustainable livelihoods.

"I am particularly pleased that the development of the Nama of Fiji product has strong pro-poor benefits, particularly for rural women in the Western division who would be the main harvesters and suppliers of nama to Essence of Fiji for its beauty product line," she said.

MDF Fiji country representative Mujaddid Mohsin said a key focus of their work in the tourism sector was to increase the value of Fiji's locally-made tourism products and improving their visibility to tourists.

"This partnership has the potential to create a sustainable and alternative source of income for women in coastal communities in the Yasawa Islands and Ra Province who will now have direct market access to sell their nama," he said.

MDF has previously supported Essence of Fiji to upgrade its production and training facility, improve the quality of locally sourced raw materials by providing training to its suppliers and expanding its marketing and promotion efforts.

Essence of Fiji managing director Debra Sadranu said their valued partnership with MDF had enabled them to further develop their products and manufacturing capacity for both, local and export markets.

"Through manufacturing our Nama skincare, our partnership engagement has impacted the livelihoods of women who are harvesters and collectors of our Nama raw material," she said.

"As part of our company's social responsibilities we pride ourselves in changing women's lives in Fiji."

The development of the 'Nama of Fiji' products builds on from Essence of Fiji's affiliation with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research's (ACIAR) research by James Cook University (JCU) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) on seaweed in Fiji.

This research has uncovered the potential use of nama as a natural "hydration" substitute for hyaluronic acid which is typically used for beauty products and has to be made in a laboratory.

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