Centre Unlocks New Opportunities: Akbar

    Creating new gateways for the economic empowerment and improved livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged women and families is the fundamental ideals of a women’s centre which is now making
26 Jun 2016 08:07
Centre Unlocks New Opportunities: Akbar
The Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Rosy Akbar, while opening the centre. Photo: Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation



Creating new gateways for the economic empowerment and improved livelihood opportunities for disadvantaged women and families is the fundamental ideals of a women’s centre which is now making a positive impact in Fiji.

Opened in September last year, the Makoi Women’s Vocational Training Centre in Suva has successfully trained 10 women, therein producing its first batch of graduates who had been equipped with enhanced skills and tools to make an independent living for themselves.

The role of the centre is based on the Fijian Government’s vision, which is to provide equal opportunities for women to fully participate in socio-economic sectors, which is also well articulated in 2013 Constitution. The centre has been developed through partnership between Ministry of Women, Fiji Muslim Women’s League with major project partners; Australian Aid and IDB (Islamic Development Bank).

The centre’s inaugural graduation ceremony last week, was an inspiring event to witness. The 10 women trainees for the first time were recognised with formal certificate presentation and a graduation ceremony.

Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Rosy Akbar describes the training programme as a great platform to promote women’s entrepreneurship.

“Through this initiative the ministry reaches out to women, who need enhanced skills training to venture into sustainable livelihood programmes.

“This is derived through Fijian Government’s commitment to ensure inclusive development, to ensure that no one is left behind, importantly women as being the greatest agents of change; they have potentials to change the future of this nation. Through this centre we aim to nurture those capabilities to help them start their own businesses and income-generating activities.

“Nine of these trainees are social welfare recipients; with new skills we have set them on the pathway to become self-reliant, to gradually transit from welfare to workfare. They have been mentored on developing self-confidence and self-esteem.  Some of them will also find their way through Micro and Small Business Grants Scheme and Fijian Made Emblem currently provided by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism,” Minister Akbar said.

Centre manager Afsrin Sabina Ali praised the trainees for their level of commitment provided during the training conducted from April 1 to June 18 this year. To help them start of their businesses, four of the trainees were presented with electric ovens by the Fiji Muslim League while six were given sewing machines by the Ministry of Women.

“We had four graduates from culinary class and six graduates from the tailoring and fashion design class. We were able to give individualised attention to each trainee and this resulted in them grasping the concepts very well, even establishing their own business towards the conclusion of the course.  Of the 10 courses outlined we have already established culinary, tailoring, screen printing and the next course will focus on horticulture and floral arrangement.

“The next round of training will begin in two weeks’ time and this will be for six to eight weeks at the end of which the trainees will graduate with certificates and given start-off tools as it was in this graduation,” Ms Ali said.

With the completion of the dormitory, the centre will also provide accommodation for trainees living outside of Suva and that from the rural and maritime areas.

One of the graduates, 38-year-old Salanieta Kotoisuva of Wainibuku HART Home in Nasinu is prepared to build on her catering business. Being a single parent, Ms Kotoisuva is determined to effectively use her skills to look after the welfare of her four children.

“I am happy with my achievements; as for someone who only went up to Form Six (Year 12), this graduation means a lot to me. The training has given me a new life, a means to stand on my own two feet. Even though, I have been on welfare assistance, I have always wanted to build a future for my children using my own willpower, I know one day I can,” she said.

“Cooking has always been my hobby and I have been lucky to learn new techniques of baking pastries, cooking local dishes and Thai dishes. I will be able to bake items like cookies, doughnuts, cakes and sell it from home and even take catering orders for events like weddings, birthdays. I’ve been taking catering orders for few occasions; it’s a profitable business and now with new skills I can make a variety of items that will be a boost to my business,” Ms Kotoisuva said.

She thanked the Ministry of Women and Fiji Muslim Women’s League for having faith in her and giving her free training opportunity.

Source: Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation



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