Strengthen market vendors to strengthen society

Jun 1, 2015

Litiana Tukania (right) attending financial training in Labasa for the first time. (Photo: Tokmoko Kashiwazaki/UNDP)

Litiana’s application for a stall inside the Labasa market has just been approved. She is having her own stall to sell yagona at Labasa municipal market and was so excited when she heard about a training for market vendors from her sister-in-law.

“I grabbed the opportunity to learn about market business.  It was an opportune time for me to attend the training and prepare myself for opening my stall,” said Litiana Tukania.

Ms. Tukania is also a social entrepreneur, managing a kindergarten in her village, Wailevu, and running an income generation programme with support from an international non-governmental organization.

“I have eight bee boxes and raised FJ$900 last November and December. The income from selling honey will help sustain the kindergarten.  And I am also starting my market business. ‘Management’ will be important to succeed my business which I am learning from the training,” said Ms. Tukania.

Some market vendors in Labasa are engaging in their business in the market full-time, while others, like Ms. Tukania, have multiple occupations or commitments, eager to learn and develop their business skills.

The Continuing Market Business Education (CMBE) programme was launched in 2014 in Fiji by UNDP in partnership with the local government, Westpac Banking Corporation and UN Women. The aim is to improve and strengthen financial literacy and business skills of market vendors, especially targeting women market vendors who make up the majority, from 75-95 percent, of the vendors working in Pacific marketplaces.

Supporting market vendors through CMBE will not just improve their lives and livelihoods, but will also allow some of the vendors to consider other business opportunities, increasing their social and economic activity. The benefit from those activities will return to the society. Providing market vendors with learning opportunities to develop their business can also encourage other social commitments and outreach just like Ms. Tukania, who looks after a kindergarten.

The training programme is usually offered at the marketplaces, either inside the market, women’s accommodation or town hall near the market for the convenience of market vendors. To date, market vendors working at all 10 municipal markets in Fiji, Nausori, Suva, Sigatoka, Nadi, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki and Labasa, have completed the session on Financial First Step delivered by Westpac Bank. Some of them have stepped up to the next round and learnt about effective produce presentation, customer relations and record keeping, which will be delivered to all 10 markets.

“The training is all for our businesses and it is up to us to participate in the training,” said Ana Biusavu, President of Market Vendors’ Association.

She added that the Association has assisted in the organization of the training in Labasa market. The CMBE session that was held in May was attended by 60 market vendors, including Ms. Tukania and her sister-in-law.

The CMBE is delivered as part of the Markets for Change project , a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. A UN Women project, Markets for Change is implemented in partnership with UNDP and principally funded by the Australian Government. 

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