Cleaning business owner, Brown Thompson Eroi, 27
How did you start and grow your business?
I was a researcher before, and the office I was working in did not have a cleaner. That’s when it clicked for me to start this business. I first cleaned boats, offices and residences and registered my company.
It was a good year for me in 2018. I was awarded a few big contracts through tenders, such as a big company office, a shopping mall and a stadium. I have 11 employees, including young women and men.
What is one challenge you’ve encountered in starting your business, and what was your strategy to overcome it?
I did not have enough capital to start. It was tough in the first year — I had my family with a newborn baby. I approached some influential people such as a Member of Parliament but was not trusted because I was young. In our culture, it is hard to convince elders.
I was almost giving up my attempt, and I won my first tender. I managed to take off with support from my relatives and moved on little by little.
How would the co-working space support young entrepreneurs like you?
I want to grow my business by obtaining contracts with hotels, swimming pools and more. I also want to expand to other provinces. I would expect some useful information could be exchanged at the co-working space.
With input from young entrepreneurs who are striving to grow their enterprises and the business community that is eager to support them, UNDP materialized the blueprint of the space for innovation and collaboration.
Along with the co-working space, comprehensive training packages tailored to young entrepreneurs’ needs will be offered. The entrepreneurs will also be able to participate in networking events with peers and senior business people, including members of the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI).
Ultimately, IumiWaka and its resources are expected to be tools for transformation — of business ideas into stable enterprises and unemployment into economic growth.
With funding from the Country Investment Facility, UNDP and MCILI with support from YECSI established the IumiWaka youth co-working space in the center of Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara. IumiWaka is intended to empower youth to create economic opportunities and nurture development of prototypes, ideas and solutions.
In conjunction with the establishment of IumiWaka, UNDP will create a loan guarantee scheme to improve access to capital. As the lack of access to capital is a prevalent issue for businesses in emerging markets, the loan guarantee scheme will give young entrepreneurs with a viable business idea the opportunity to succeed while moving away from the traditional model of hand-out grants.