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Future In Waste Management, Says Activist

Future In Waste Management, Says Activist
Dwain Qalovaki with the Green Sports Alliance 2018 Innovator of the Year award for advancing connections between sports and waste management by hosting the first Oceania Region Plastic Free tournament at Raka7s across staff, stadium venue, food vendors, fans and community. He received this award on June 27, in Atlanta in USA.
October 05
16:01 2018

Thirty-two-year-old Dwain Qalovaki is a familiar face to organic waste manage­ment and green entrepreneur­ship.

The two-time international award-winning sustainability manager said: “My first interna­tional award was from the Inter­national Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2016,” he said.

“I was one of three people around awarded for growing in­digenous participation in sustain­able sea transport initiatives.”

Mr Qalovaki is a trustee of the Uto ni Yalo.

 

“The Uto ni Yalo is a 72-foot, so­lar and wind-powered vessel and we have circumnavigated the world twice and we have been to 15 countries in the Southern and Northern hemispheres,” he said.

“At the Green Entrepreneurship Workshop, my job was to liaise with almost 20 Green Entrepre­neurs about how we create busi­ness opportunities in waste.

“Some of the things was to talk to them about the fact that we need to read the National Indica­tors around statistics.

“It’s not good enough to just do a feel-good piece where we are try­ing to save the environment.”

He has also won a Global Green Sports Alliance in Raka 7s.

Mr Qalovaki said that Naboro landfill, which is the main land­fill for the whole country, accepts 180,000 kilograms of waste every single day.

“The Suva City Council (SCC), being the largest municipality, sends at least 80 per cent organic material,” he said.

On a national scale, organic farming helps Fijians to reduce their dependence on chemical fertilisers and it means more lo­cal farmers can go organic and produce food that is better for our bodies.

“Better for our bodies means that there is less strain on our health systems,” he said.

“It also means less strain on our infrastructure to cater for more citizens who have been consum­ing pesticides directly and are now getting sick because of this.

“It also means that we are able to export a higher quality of organic product abroad which helps our foreign reserves and improves ex­portability as a country.”

This also creates better jobs for Fiji.

Mr Qalovaki’s purpose is to help give entrepreneurs better ideas on how they can make money.

“Another one was to look at the fact that every year we have more than 150,000 empty wine bot­tles drunk at 300 bars and hotels around our country,” he said.

“There is so much business op­portunity to be made in waste. Since Fiji is a small country where money is a lot harder to come by than in larger countries, there have to be more smarter business ventures that people can go into.

“Once, they go into business ven­tures they look at informal lend­ing and informal lending refers to looking past banks and financial lenders that these entrepreneurs don’t have,” he said.

“Our banks basically have re­gressive financial products that don’t acknowledge the developing country. You need to have special loan packages that cater for en­trepreneurship that caters for the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) market.

“Because without that the coun­try does not grow, the country stays in a perpetual cycle of rely­ing on aid and the banks have a part to play in making sure that there are loan packages that en­trepreneurs and SME business owners can actually tap into.”

In addition, he also has a diplo­ma in Development Journalism at Indian Institute of Mass Commu­nication in India.

He is originally from Nayau Is­lands in Lau.

“I was brought up in Lautoka by a single parent and I was told to be humble,” Mr Qalovaki said.

The highlight of Mr Qalovaki’s career is being the project man­ager in the implementation of the plastic bag levy across all the service stations in the country and they have taken the pledge to reduce 1,000,000 plastic bags in 12 months.

“Also, sailing on the 72-foot sus­tainable sailing vessel the Uto ni Yalo to Australia and around nine islands in Fiji.”

His word of advice was: “It is im­portant to recognise that working in space that does not exist is that you have to have a lot of patience and when there is no market and no demand for your service or for your product.

“The responsibility is on you as an early entrant on how to create space and how you market share and value for the services that you produce,” he said.

Edited by Epineri Vula

Feedback: sheenam.chandra@fijisun.com.fj

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