Tuesday, July 26, 2011

[pima.nius] Tongan women combine to boost business

2:07 PM |

Tongan women combine to boost business

Updated July 26, 2011 09:06:51

Tongan women with a passion for business have joined together to create the WISE women network.

The Women in Sustainable Enterprises group was set up to create more businesses opportunities for women through training and mentoring programs.

The network already has 140 members including business leaders, home-based entrepreneurs and aspiring business women.


Presenter: Geraldine Coutts
Speaker: Tuna Likiliki, WISE network board member

LIKILIKI: For us and in Tonga getting into businesses is hard, even for both men and women, but women in particular where a lot of focus is the home. And there's a few successful, quite a few growing in terms of the formal sector, and a lot of small based home businesses. So it's just a matter of getting together to bring together those people with the people in the � to encourage growth and provide them with a place where they can openly ask questions of other women who they view as having accomplished their success, so that encourages those who are just starting out.

COUTTS: Can you give us an example of some of the home-based businesses you're talking about?

LIKILIKI: Ok well there's these people down in Fatai, which is the other side of the island, and they plant beautiful flowers you would see on international arrangements in hotels and stuff like that. And they just sell it like in the marketplace, and then you would have people like florists who would go and just buy those flowers themselves, and create elaborate ones. So it goes from those who are actually grow the flowers to branch out and design their own floral arrangements and getting them in touch with people who can purchase that off them directly.

COUTTS: How does it actually work, how do people or women wanting help know about WISE, the sustainable enterprise group, and what kind of help when they do get in touch with you can you give them?

LIKILIKI: All of our support members we go out in our various villages and we talk to people, so we have one lady who goes out into the other villages as part of her role in her work she has to do that. So she also branches out and talks about WISE. We use email for those who have access to internet, all our phones and our mobiles are given out, and they call us and we just talk to them about processes, who to contact and things like that. But sometimes we find that their basic needs are just not knowing where to go for information and connecting them to that.

COUTTS: And if they need money, are you able to help them with that, can you help them get loans and that side of the business deal?

LIKILIKI: Our focus is on encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, and mentoring them on ways to do business in a sustainable way, not financing. But we'll mentor them in terms of comparing proposals that they can then take out to SPBD or the banks and start to get the financing.

COUTTS: Now you've got 140 members, in that number are we talking about people whose businesses now have been got up and running because of WISE?

LIKILIKI: No, 140 members is like about over half of it are women who are already running businesses that are recognised here in Tonga, and about half of it is little business that are started up in schools, in canteens and stuff like that. So it's bringing these two sectors together to provide mentoring and skills and things like that. So we've launched last Saturday and the programs going forward will be to provide training for those in the informal sector by those who are actually running businesses in the formal sectors.

COUTTS: Is it run on a voluntary basis?

LIKILIKI: Yes it is, it's run on a voluntary basis, and we have a membership fee that's just very small but it's just to see people that they actually buy into the program. It's only five dollars to be a member if you are in the informal sector, and 20 dollars in the formal sector. So we've had overwhelming support from the business community, as well as New Zealand High Commission and a few others who've given us funding to help this program, because they see the power that women mentoring women, that that actually happens, and the networking and stuff like that just provides confidence for women here in Tonga.

COUTTS: Well it was launched by the Minister for Education and Womens Affairs and Culture just a week ago. It's in its infancy, but where do you see it going in the future?

LIKILIKI: Well our launch was done in a bit of a unconventional way, usually launches here in Tonga are very formal. To create further awareness we did a showcase kind of like that you would see in trade shows and things like that, and it was funded by sponsorships, and we had all the members there, had stalls and stuff just so everybody could see everybody else and create awareness. So now because of that we've got a few more members on and what we see going forward we'll be having our next meeting at the end of the week where we will be deciding the programs for this year before we do our review. But like I said, the programs will be centred around mentoring and bringing together these two groups.


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pacific islands media association
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aotearoa, new zealand
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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
DISCLAIMER: These emails are unedited and discussions made through this googlegroup are unmoderated. Announcements made through this googlegroup do not constitute endorsement for the organisations, individuals or opinions featured. Please check the integrity of organisations and individuals before exchanging personal information with them.
 
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