NEWS

Grant Paves Way For Yaqona Vendor

Makalesi Vatubua was at ease caring for her children until one day she noticed her husband seemed oddly shorthanded in his role as the family’s provider. The mother-of-seven began thinking
26 Jan 2018 11:22
Grant Paves Way For Yaqona Vendor
Makalesi Vatubua filling a bag of yaqona at her home in Kinoya on January 25, 2018. Photo: Sheldon Chanel

Makalesi Vatubua was at ease caring for her children until one day she noticed her husband seemed oddly shorthanded in his role as the family’s provider.

The mother-of-seven began thinking of a way to use her free time productively and in the process, contribute to the family income.

When she saw an advertisement about the $1000 Government Micro and Small Business Grant (MSBG) she knew what she had to do.

The Naqarani villager, from Rewa, applied and became a recipient in 2015. She used the cash to purchase yaqona from Kadavu and started conducting business from her house in Kinoya.

While applying, she gave the team at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism her mother’s mobile number as her contact because she could not afford a phone at the time.

Today, not only does she own a smart phone, but her income has also enabled the purchase of a large flat screen TV happily displayed in the living room.

“The best thing about this business is I can help my husband put our kids through school and also contribute to the daily expenses of the house,” she said.

Yaqona prices nearly doubled after Cyclone Winston caused widespread damage to crops. Given the high demand many pounced at the business opportunity, creating stiff competition among dealers.

Ms Vatubua’s family has felt the full brunt of the competitive yaqona market.

“We face very stiff competition from people who sell grog in our community, as well as the people outside of where we live,” she said.

“But we have been doing well and have quite a good number of customers. One day, I hope to expand my business to a small shop.”

She and her husband have streamlined their operations. Yaqona arrives from Kadavu, her husband, who works in Walu Bay, fetches the shipment and has it pounded nearby his workplace and has it delivered to Kinoya.

Ms Vatubua retails her yaqona in 1kg bags selling at $100, $50 for ½ kg, and the regular 100gram for $3 per bag.

Edited by George Kulamaiwasa

Feedback:  sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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