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life journey

Shayal Devi
Sunday, November 26, 2017

IT takes courage to venture into something which may or may not work out in the long run.

Twenty-four years ago, Esther Tuilomaloma took a risk by taking the first step to becoming an entrepreneur. Today, she stands as one of the most successful female entrepreneurs on Vanuabalavu.

She is now trying to get women in rural areas of the West to enter the world of business and entrepreneurship by engaging with interested ladies through the Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women's Association (PPSEAWA).

The group is heavily involved in rural women's development in the Western Division with members travelling to villages to speak to women about how lucrative the world of business is.

Mrs Tuilomaloma, who lives on Vanuabalavu, is one of the ladies whom PPSEAWA engaged to speak with rural women in a bid to foster interest in entrepreneurship.

She owns fuel services, sells copra flax and she also owns a poultry farm and has run her three businesses simultaneously for the past 24 years.

According to Mrs Tuilomaloma, more women need to change their attitude towards business and be disciplined in starting one.

In order to succeed, she says one needs to step out of their comfort zone and with the right attitude, discipline and knowledge, can move ahead with their business.

And this is the same message that will be taken to women of different rural areas.

PPSEAWA Lautoka chapter president Titilia Vuataki says entrepreneurs like Mrs Tuilomaloma help boost ladies' morale if they were interested in pursuing business ventures.

"We are having meetings and it is so great to see what has been done with regards to helping women," she says.

One of the areas the group is now focusing on is implementing self-sustaining income-generation projects, for example, selling meat birds and eggs.

"This is something women in the rural areas can do and it is also something that will ensure land will be used.

"We will be visiting villages in Nadi and this is an important project because it will help women to be self-sufficient and they won't have to depend on anyone."

She says rural women had an edge and could benefit greatly from business as they possessed land.

"A lot of what we do is aimed at reducing women's dependence on men.

"A lot of the villages we go to, the women have unused land beside their homes and we encourage them to plant vegetables.

"We also emphasise on health and getting them to develop healthier eating habits in their homes. This is also tied in to planting vegetables."

Ms Vuetaki said rural women in the Western Division had a lot more markets where they could sell their products.

"The third phase of our initiative is to set up legitimate businesses. We have already identified markets for the women so it's much easier for them to sell their products.

"Women in the West are lucky because there are a lot of tourism properties that could make use of vegetables and handicrafts or whatever business they venture into."

PPSEAWA is an international non-profit organisation that is devoted to peace and understanding throughout the Asia and Pacific region.

The community outreach programs are designed to empower women in social, economic and cultural spheres. So far, PPSEAWA personnel in the West have visited Sabeto, Natalau, Namotomoto villages and are hoping to extend their visits to the interior of Viti Levu.

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