In the last two years, there has been an increase in the establishment of small businesses owned by women entrepreneurs.
The Devpolicy Blog article titled, “Rising from the ashes: Women in Vanuatu’s economic recovery,” published in 2021, highlighted that the business world in Vanuatu is still predominantly male-oriented.
The Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) created the Phoenix Program. It then partnered with the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) to work with female business owners tasked with managing more of the business responsibilities in response to the COVID-19 impact on businesses.
“While it may not seem like a good time to invest in business, it may be a particularly important time to invest in women in business,” said the General Manager of the VCCI, Astrid Bulekon.
The Phoenix Program was successful, but the need for women in business and entrepreneurship remains.
V-Lab is a charitable Association created to support innovation and social entrepreneurship in Vanuatu. It stated that while there are still not enough women entrepreneurs in the country, with more exposure, continuous promotion of women in business, and the right support, women will be encouraged to venture into their starting their own businesses.
V-LAB has implemented 5 programs with 97 participants entirely, only 33 of them were women.
The organization highlights three challenges for women entrepreneurs in the country. The mindset that males are dominant in handling business affairs, a lack of opportunity and a lack of resources available to enable women in business.
Despite these challenges, some young women have started their own small businesses in the midst of the COVID-19 period and remain persistent to grow and advance their businesses.
Brenda Wolang is a 21-year-old who started her own business — ‘B’s artificial fleurs’ this year. She makes foam flowers, headpieces and earrings.
“I started my small business during the lockdown period. Since jobs were on hold i wanted a way to earn a little money for myself,” she said.
Ms Wolang stated that having her own small business has empowered her economically but the biggest challenge she faces is defying social expectations.
“Many women wanting to start a business will get scared to create and bring their ideas into reality because of social expectations. They quit thinking that you must be really good at doing something before selling,” she said.
The Scrunchies and Sunshine business is owned by duo Talula Fay Taribakeo, 22 years old and Dannya Eva Malasikoto, 21 years old.
The two started the business in 2021 solely selling scrunchies of all shapes, sizes and customization.
“Starting our own business has helped us greatly in improving our abilities and skills. We had our doubts at first about how our products turned and the market out when we first started but as time went, with much positive feedback our confidence grew,” stated the duo.
“The business has economically empowered us. We both have to juggle school and the business. That is a challenge but you can create a side hustle and set up your free time working on it.”
Beada_zzle is a living testimony that you can make money from something you love to do.
Larissa Haley Hannam, aged 23, started her business in 2021 purely because she wanted to design and create elegant but affordable jewelry for women.
“Owning a small business has not only allowed me to be able to make an income but also being able to do what I love and that is to create,” she said.
“Having to juggle motherhood, daily house chores, maintaining essential family time or relationships while running my small business has been challenging. All these have impacted greatly on my punctuality to running my business.
“Some days I’m too tired and other days I’m too occupied to even be able to create. Yet, all has been just as rewarding as challenging.”
Halana handmade jewelry was created by 21-year-old Amaros Siro. She expressed that business has always been of interest to her and this year she took the leap in starting her own.
“Starting my business has benefited me a lot. It has helped me to see the world from a new perspective. It has financially enabled me and taught me to manage my own resources,” said Ms Siro.
“The biggest challenge I would say is balancing business and university lifestyles. Having to be a full time student and running a business is often challenging. Time management is definitely needed and should be followed strictly. Discipline is key!”
Trisha Tulangi has expanded her small business from creating only foam ear flowers to creating earrings and hair adornment sets as her business continues to grow.
Ms Tulangi established “Trish Crafts” in 2021 as she saw that working for herself was more lucrative. Since she started her own business, she found that it has helped her greatly in her home.
“As a woman in Vanuatu, such endeavours seem hard but if i can do it, you can do it too,” she said.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST