Set on her vision

Marguerite Gain hopes to start a business to sell her array of sewing products. Picture: SUPPLIED/UNDP

WITH three certificates in hand, Marguerite Gain shares her vision. She wants to become a shopowner to sell her wide array of sewing products including pillowcases, curtains, sulu jaba (Fijian traditional women’s dress), and men’s shirts. It is not just a dream, but her business blueprint. It has not been easy for her. Marguerite has struggled and fought to stand by herself economically and emotionally after she ended an unhappy marriage.

Returning to her mother’s village alone, she wondered what she could do to earn a living, as she was not used to working on a farm like other women in the village.

Instead, Marguerite started sewing, a skill she had learned from her mother. She began sewing school uniforms for students, women’s and men’s clothing for village functions among other items, for over 10 years.

One day, an opportunity to upscale her business came to her village. Marguerite learned she could register her business when she met a team of government officers providing mobile awareness raising and service delivery in the village.

She immediately applied to register her business with the team. The certificates she now holds are milestones and testament to her hard work toward owning her own business. They are proof of her sewing skills and legal qualification by the Government to open her sewing business.

Business registration is an essential step to legally establish a business in Fiji because it is a requisite for the issue of a business licence.

The mobile awareness raising and service delivery was co-ordinated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Office in Fiji as part of the initiative, Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians Project, supported by the Government of Japan.

Marguerite was one of many other women who came to know of government services, including business registration, support for women’s clubs and women’s skills training, and applied for the services made accessible right on her doorstep through the REACH mobile awareness raising and service delivery.

The project provides women with access to government services and inter-agency support in a co-ordinated manner, enabling them to improve and advance their economic, social and legal status using the services.

“I have been thinking how I could expand my sewing business. The registration process was not complicated. I applied in my village with support from the officers. Now that the registration has been completed, my business plan is more real and firm. I feel confident that I can do it,” said Marguerite.

The REACH Project contributes towards achieving gender equality and promotes empowerment of all women and girls, as an integral part of and a key enabler of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals, which have been endorsed by the Fiji Government.

  • Tomoko Kashiwazaki, is an advocacy and outreach specialist at the UNDP Pacific Office in Suva, Fiji.

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