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Tevita carves his way to self employment

Atasa Moceituba
Thursday, March 01, 2018

TRUE happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.

These were the words of Tevita Manu who used his talents to earn a living on the streets of Suva.

Manu's booth is unique, he sells voivoi pandanus leaves and scrapers also known as na i toci in a little booth along Nabukalou Creek in Suva.

Originally from Vunidogoloa Village in Cakaudrove, Mr Manu said the scrapers were normally used by women to straighten the pandanus leaves meant for weaving mats.

The 63-year-old who is a professional carpenter said he began selling voivoi scrapers and other handiwork in 1985 and from that time until now he said he never regretted his decision to venture into this business.

In 1972 Manu left his home in Vunidogoloa in search of greener pastures and was employed by the Public Works Department as a carpenter.

He now makes a living from carpentry work and selling pandanus scrapers.

Mr Manu, who resides in Tovata outside Nasinu with his family, says the scrapers were made at home and it usually took him about 45 minutes to make one.

He would watch his late father as a child carve all sorts of handiworks.

Little did he know that one day he would start his own carving business.

Looking back he said he paid less attention on carving until he started and finally realised his talent was right there, this was where the idea to begin his own carving business emerged.

Mr Manu said he chose pandanus scraper because the demand for scrapers especially by mat weavers were increasing and orders were now coming in from individuals and also from neighbouring island nations such as Samoa and Tonga.

Apart from na i toci which are sold for $5 to $6, he said he also sold fish scrapers.

He said the handiworks were made in his spare time or some evenings after selling.

"This is also a source of income for the family what we earn from here helps meet the family needs and bill payments."

Mr Manu sells his products six days a week from Mondays to Saturdays and earns $60 to $100 a day.

In a day he said he could serve 30 to 50 customers a day and even 100 on a busy day.

"When I'm busy or have other commitments my wife sells our handiworks on my behalf."

He said what he sold in a day depended on customers and this was one of the reasons he decided to carve his handiworks according to his clients' preferences.

Manu is a proof that you don't need education to be successful.

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