Jioji Productions: Qaqaturaga Tells Of ‘The Inside Story’

Now at 40-years old, the successful Rukua businesswoman of Beqa, has established herself, more than her dreams could ever comprehend, that is, as a storyteller.
19 Sep 2021 14:27
Jioji Productions: Qaqaturaga Tells Of ‘The Inside Story’
Manuha’apai Jioji Qaqaturaga (left) with her daughter Elizabeth Qaqaturaga and husband Ratu Ananaisa Qaqaturaga.

Jioji Productions is expanding its business.

What started as a digital lifetime events documentary business in 2011, has evolved to include other subsidiaries, including companies that deal with the development of signage and screen printing.

In the months ahead, Jioji Productions will add another feather to its cap when it opens a car rental service.

Early days

Jioji Productions was founded by Manuha’apai Jioji Qaqaturaga, an Interior Decoration and Design & Landscape Architecture graduate from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

Now at 40-years old, the successful Rukua businesswoman of Beqa, has established herself, more than her dreams could ever comprehend, that is, as a storyteller.

She married Ratu Ananaisa Qaqaturaga in 2010 after the couple met through a mutual friend.

“We made our acquaintances through the internet,” Mrs Qaqaturaga said.

“At the time, there was no Facebook, so I really didn’t know what he looked like.”

When the couple settled down to begin their new lives as a married union, Mrs Qaqaturaga started her first job as a pastry chef, making homemade cookies, cakes and pastries that she sold on the streets of Suva and was heavily pregnant.

Following the birth of their first and only child, she launched Jioji Productions in 2011.

It was to be the foundation of her storytelling business, by way of digitally documenting lifetime moments.

Now the creative director of Loa Street-based Jioji Productions in Tamavua, she started the business solo.

The money she earned from the sale of cakes and pastries was saved to pay for the nanny that would take care of their only child.

Eventually, Mrs Qaqaturaga  reeled in her husband to manage the company books.

He left his professional job, as an accountant for a well-regarded accounting firm, to help his wife.

It was a decision he did not look back on, as the move allowed him to tap into his entrepreneurial side by helping him establish other businesses under the umbrella of Jioji Productions.

“He has kept me disciplined with his business acumen,” she said.

In 2011, Mrs Qaqaturaga taught her husband how to cut videos, editing and graphics to go along with bookkeeping.

The couple moved to Papua New Guinea to manage multiple businesses, where they realised they could do the same with theirs in Fiji.

In 2013, the couple returned to Fiji to start their marketing and advertising business.

“At that time, it was merely a marketing agency, where we did graphics, television commercials and in-house ads,” Mrs Qaqaturaga said.

With little to no knowledge of graphics and advertising, the duo set out to build on their design house.

“We were pushing boundaries in the marketing and advertising world with designs that were drawn from the design theory disciplines acquired along the way,” she said.

“We paid ourselves $40 each a week, with which we had to buy baby’s diapers and formula, and our food for the week.

“We lived in a small house with just one bed as our furniture.

“Today, with our 11-year old daughter, we use less than that for our weekly meals.

A reputable business

The company recorded a surge in sales volume from the few clientele it had garnered, she said.

Jioji Productions has since secured at least 33 reputable business houses as their clients, for whom the design house prepares advertising and marketing material.

Jioji Productions livestream team in their Loa St office.

Jioji Productions livestream team in their Loa St office.

The clientele include major organisations such as:
• Pacific Energy,

• APCO Coatings Ltd,

• BSP Life Insurance,

• ANZ Bank Pacific,

• Tower Insurance,

• Fiji Development Bank,

• Fijian Holdings Limited,

• Merchant Finance,

• Housing Authority,

• Vodafone Kiribati,

• Fiji Ports Authority and

• Fiji National Rugby League.

During the steady progress of the company, Jioji Productions encouraged its staff to have a side business.

“That was way before COVID-19,” Mrs Qaqaturaga said.

“That’s how businesses such as Ultimate Signz and Screen Kings, were later founded.”

Jioji Productions and its subsidiaries employ 30 people.

“For livestream, we get people who have never worked a day in their lives, and train them.

“We pride ourselves in telling the inside story.”

A brief halt

In full steam, Manu was diagnosed with a brain tumor – with dimensions measuring seven centimeters in length, five centimeters in depth.

“The doctors said the tumor had grown over 10 years,” she said.

A mother’s kiss. Manuha’apai Jioji Qaqaturaga gets a kiss from her mother Fonua Jioji after her brain surgery.

A mother’s kiss. Manuha’apai Jioji Qaqaturaga gets a kiss from her mother Fonua Jioji after her brain surgery.

At a time when the couple were struggling to make ends meet, the medical authority offered to carry out the high-risk brain surgery at no cost.

Ratu Ananaisa, described the blessing in disguise as a down payment from God, for their ardent faith.

The tumor was pressing on her left frontal lobe so she would have difficulty remembering people and memories from the past.

She recovered from her brain surgery in what doctors later described as one of the quickest turnaround times.

“She didn’t know who I was at first. I had to introduce myself to her.” Ratu Ananaisa said.

“She started walking on the third day after her operation and was discharged from hospital on the fifth day.”

Through the help of her supportive husband, Mrs Qaqaturaga relearnt the ability to speak.

“Some patients take years to speak, because parts of the brain are taken out,” Ratu Ananaisa said.

“In her case, she was back on board in full form, four months after the surgery and new memories are made every day for her to cherish.”

While other livestream businesses have been on the market longer than Jioji Productions, the COVID-19 pandemic propelled Jioji Productions to the fore, with their real-time coverage of lifetime events.

The livestream business represents just a portion of the overall business operations, Mrs Qaqaturaga said.

“But yes, we agree – it’s influential – particularly as a side business that does not follow the traditional path to starting one’s own business,” she said.
A word to budding entrepreneurs

“Start with what’s in your hands I always say,” Mrs Qaqaturaga said.

If it’s a passion you can do all day and all night without getting tired, then that’s where you should invest your time and energy into.

“We borrowed a computer when we first started with Jioji Productions and from there I started telling stories for families”

You don’t have to be a university graduate to bake a cake, plant a tree, cook a meal, arrange flowers, wash cars, groom dogs and so on.

“Wherever your passion is, there your wealth will be also,” she said.


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