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Kelera's barbecue business keeps family afloat

Atasa Moceituba
Friday, March 09, 2018

KELERA Bentley makes a living selling barbecues and vegetables.

She is based at the Nabua Mini Market and at the Nabua barbecue stall.

Originally from Makadru Village in Matuku, Lau the mother of five had to struggle to make ends meet after her husband who was the sole breadwinner fell sick in 1995.

With no where to turn Mrs Bentley said she had to look for ways to support her family and this was where the decision to start a barbecue business in Nabua emerged.

"My husband suffered a stroke in 1995 but before that we used to sell barbecues during rugby matches," she said.

Mrs Bentley said things changed after his sickness and she thought long and carefully before deciding to venture into this business.

"I told myself if I had to work in a garment factory I would earn less, if I was to become a sales assistant I would not be able to support my family and would work long hours. So I decided to continue our barbecue business and work for two hours at night as she paid workers to look after the business."

From there she said their barbecue business thrived and she was able to buy a seven-seater van, and pay off their house in Vesida housing.

"I started off selling on Fridays and Saturdays until some taxi- drivers requested if I could sell six days because there was no restaurant or eatery that opened in the night in Nabua and it was difficult for them to go back home and eat. They assured me that they were going to buy barbecue from my stall every day."

Looking back she said she would not have been where she was today without the help of these taxi- drivers.

Mrs Bentley said she was the only one that sold barbecue in 1995 adding that at that time the Nabua Rd was only one way.

From that time until now she says there are nine people that sell barbecue at the stall there.

"While running our barbecue business I realised that most of the things we needed were sold in the market... this was where the idea to have my own market stall emerged."

"I started off selling ginger, cabbage, chillies, tomatoes, cassava, cucumbers, and lemons. These are all the things I need for my barbecue salad. By doing this I get to retain most of the money I earn from selling.

"I feel it's easier to buy wholesale from Suva and sell it in the market rather than buying it from other vendors. The produce I sell helps support my family and keeps my barbecue business rolling."

She says she usually buys her produce in bulk from farmers and sells it to the public

"Now my children are all married and I have 11 grandchildren. My youngest daughter lives with us and helps us run our business."

Mrs Bentley says their market business is not going well because of other competitors.

"People prefer to shop at the supermarkets and buy vegetables and fruits from there rather than the market and this really affects us."

Despite challenges encountered she says she never gives up.

She claims that the location of the Nabua market can be a contributing factor to the loss in business for vendors.

"Most of the residents here don't even know where the market is and it's really sad because fresh produce is here."

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