Honiara, Solomon Islands – Eighteen Solomon Islanders are now further equipped with skills and knowledge to operate seafood businesses’ after gaining a Micro-Qualification in Establishing and Operating a Small Seafood Business.
This was made possible through scholarships awarded by the University of the South Pacific (USP) as part of the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden.
In response to the multi-faceted challenges in the Pacific region brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a third regional cohort of the micro-qualification in the Solomon Islands was delivered in partnership with the USP- Pacific Technical and Further Education (TAFE).
Amongst the 18 participants there was a great gender balance with 11 females.
Tourism industry worker, Emily Eno, had her working hours drastically reduced to one day a week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the closure of borders. Her family’s main means of survival with three children to take care of was to become informal seafood vendors.
“My husband and I literally looked at the faces of our three children and then the Pacific Ocean outside our home in Honiara, and we knew therein lay the answer and we now we have our seafood barbecue stand operational since December 2020. This helps pay our children’s school fees and puts food on the table.
“Both my maternal and paternal grandparents were customary ocean custodians, and they taught me to respect the ocean as it will always feed us that is why we only use natural leaves packaging or cutlery that we can reuse, “she said.
Ms. Eno further explained that while her background in finance helped to start the small seafood business, she lacked the entrepreneurial skills. Equipped with new skills gained from the micro-qualification with its targeted learning approach, her plan is to expand into more creative marketing, and help convince others seafood vendors to become ecopreneurs.
Single mother, Lorinda Upolu, a former schoolteacher who diversified to become a cooked seafood vendor in order to educate her two sons at University, was also an awardee of this micro-qualification. Ms. Upolu said it was only through earnings made possible from the bounty of the Pacific Ocean that her two sons will soon graduate with a Diploma in Nursing and a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Land Management, respectively.
“I want to specially honour our Pacific Ocean which not only has fed us, it has clothed and educated us and become my best friend and provided the money for my children’s education. My journey is also possible for every female in the Pacific who wants to become a boss meri and operate a small seafood business. Start small and then you can expand on a bigger business plan,” she said.
The two-week face-to-face micro-qualification is designed to assist Pacific entrepreneurs with establishing and successfully operating a seafood business. It focused on the fundamentals of establishing and operating a small seafood business; business models and plans; marketing strategies; basic accounting; records and operational management; legislative requirements for business establishment; and ongoing compliance.
The Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Solomon Islands and for the Pacific, H.E. Sujiro Seam said, “In line with the European Green Deal, the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership continues to deliver on sustainable management of marine resources and capacity building in the region. The micro-qualification in establishing and operating a small seafood business awarded today by the University of the South Pacific allows 18 Pacific Islanders to be more resilient and better equipped to face the challenges of the region, especially the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change.”
University of the South Pacific Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Giulio Masasso Tu’ikolongahau Pāunga , in congratulating the awardees said the important element of this micro-qualification is the opportunity to give small seafood businesses operators especially in the Pacific Island States, a fighting chance to survive during this era of COVID-19.
“We are large ocean states but with loss of employment prevalent in our region, the risk of COVID-19 infections amongst other socio-economic factors, the USP PEUMP Programme has taken this challenge and turned it into an opportunity to ensure that small scale operators are not marginalised but can instead thrive,” he said.
To date, USP has delivered three cohorts of this micro-qualification, two in Fiji and the most recent one in Solomon Islands. A total of 59 Pacific Islanders have been awarded this coveted micro-qualification, of which 35 are women.
The USP is one of four key implementing partners of the overall PEUMP Programme and focuses on building the capacity for Pacific islanders through education, training, research and development in fisheries and marine resources management.
The overall EUR 45million Programme promotes sustainable management and sound ocean governance for food security and economic growth, while addressing climate change resilience and conservation of marine biodiversity. It follows a comprehensive approach, integrating issues related to ocean and coastal fisheries, community development, marine conservation and capacity building under one single regional action.
For more information:
Josephine Prasad, USP PEUMP Programme, Communications Specialist, +679 9922098, [email protected]