Elenoa Tabua at the Suva Municipal Market selling her produce (Photo: UNDP/Tomoko Kashiwazaki)

Suva, Fiji - Saturday is market day for many part-time market vendors, and a long one for many who would start their travel to the market the night before. Elenoa Tabua of Korovou village in Naitasiri, leaves her home at 11pm every Friday to travel about 50 kilometers to the Suva Municipal Market located in the capital, more than an hour’s travel by road, to allow her enough time at the market to organize her produce of ota, dalo and moli. She sleeps under her table afterwards as she waits for daybreak to start her sale.

With no formal training, Ms Tabua has been a market vendor for 14 years and learned the business by doing. Through the Continuing Market Business Education (CMBE), she finally got the opportunity to enhance her business knowledge. 

“I learned that budgeting is important. I used to spend most of my earnings from the market without planning but I now put aside some for meals, children’s school, and other expenses, and the rest is my profit,” said Ms Tabua.

“I shared what I learned from the training with my husband and daughter. She helps me at the market and contribute to the family after taking some from what she sold for her bus fare and stationary for the next week,” she added.

Ms Tabua was among 45 other participants from eight villages who were trained on financial and business basics for market vendors. The trainings were held at Delaiwaimale village in the Navuakece District of the Naitasiri Province by Westpac Banking Corporation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The training targeted part-time market vendors who did not have a chance to attend the CMBE training provided at municipal markets in previous years. 

CMBE training has been providing five topics of financial and business basics for market vendors at 10 municipal markets in Fiji since it started in November 2014. It trained 917 market vendors on financial literacy and registered a total of 2,217 people. From the 10 markets, 89.1% who registered were women market vendors, most of whom are full-time.  The CMBE has two focus areas for 2016 that is, completion of the programme by full time market vendors and reducing exclusion of rural market vendors.

To make the training more inclusive and accessible to part-time market vendors, the CMBE training targets catchment communities for rural market vendors on the five training topics. Ten training sessions have been delivered to more than 300 rural and part-time market vendors, about 70 of whom are men, between May and June of 2016. It is being delivered throughout this year in partnership with the Westpac Banking Corporation, the Ministry of iTaukei Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture. 

CMBE launched its work in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu in March and June this year, with the topics designed to meet the needs of market vendors in each country.

Thirteen training sessions have been delivered in two markets in the Solomon Islands: the Honiara Central Market and the Auki Market in partnership with Honiara City Council, the Malaita Provincial Government and the Bank South Pacific Solomon Islands. More than 200 vendors have been trained since then. 

Participants of the Continuing Market Business Education training in Vanuatu (Photo: UNDP)


In Vanuatu, the CMBE training programme started last month in Melematt Village and was followed by five training sessions delivered in June to six markets in the Shefa Province. The CMBE programme aims to train vendors in the Port Vila Central Market, Luganville Market, the six Shefa Markets including five Ring Road markets. The programme is partnering with the Ministry of Local Authorities, Port Vila Municipal Council, Luganville Municipal Council, Shefa Provincial Government Council and the National Bank of Vanuatu.

CMBE and other training activities aims to strengthen the economic security, rights and livelihoods of market vendors especially women market vendors. It is conducted by UNDP in partnership with the local governments, UN Women and regional banks, as part of the Markets for Change project. 

The Markets for Change project is 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 supported by the Australian Government.

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