Mātua, E amata ia oe Faata'ita'iga Lelei. . .

Transitioning from markets vendors to becoming Entrepreneurs

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Upolu – Monday 5th & Tuesday 6th June 2023

Savaii – Thursday 8th & Friday 9th June 2023

Samoa is not only vulnerable to climate change, but pandemics such as COVID-19 which exacerbated the financial hardships and other limitations for vulnerable communities especially women and youth. The development of our people is the core of the Pathway for the Development of Samoa 2021 – 2026. This is in line with the Samoa National Gender Equality Policy, the Community Economic Policy and other key mandates that is guiding the work of the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD).

In the MWCSD’s efforts to meet its objectives under the abovementioned policies and other mandates we have partnered with other government Ministries and Non-Government Organisations to create pathways and build economic knowledge and skills of our women, persons with Disability and men but specifically women. The overall goal is transformative change through advancing gender equality, and social and economic empowerment of women.

The latest National Accounts data reported by Samoa Bureau of Statistics revealed that Samoa has had a negative growth in GDP for 3 consecutive years since 2019. This decline and economic recession is partially attributed to a series of unfortunate events such as the Measles Outbreak and Covid 19. In fact, the impacts of the decline in the country’s GDP growth is reflected and being felt at various levels of society with the weight of it being most hard hitting on Samoa’s vulnerable populations and micro businesses at the grass root level. On top of these challenges are also the daily struggles local vendors contend with due to the adverse effects of climate change. An estimated 80 percent of micro businesses supported under the MWCSD’s SBI Program are agribusinesses and therefore considered most vulnerable to climatic changes. In aims to address and relieve the burdens of the climatic and economic challenges on the community vendors and their micro businesses, the transitioning training offers the platform and support for them to enter smoothly into the formal business sector and be eligible to further support and provide opportunities for business expansion and sustainability at the SME level.

The first training on the transitioning of vendors to formal business kick started with 30 participants from Upolu and Savaii in the previous week. The training program targets micro business owners and community vendors who are highly interested and deemed ready to make the transition from informal practices to formal. This transitioning training program is implemented as part of the MWCSD’s Small Business Incubator Program, more widely known as the SBI and it derived from discussions between the Ministry and its Partners in the Economic Sector to work collaboratively to strengthen support to recover and sustain local businesses.

Additionally, in ensuring vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities and women are prioritized and well assisted under this program, efforts have been made to ensure the training program is inclusive to PWDs and gender based with majority of its participants being women entrepreneurs leading their household developments in the informal sector. This further aims to promote gender equality and the economic empowerment of market vendors, with specific attention to the needs and aspirations of women market vendors through the Market for Change (M4C) Project. The programme targeted a diversity of market vendors producing a wide-range of products (e.g. agricultural produce, handicrafts, canteen, fishing etc), and include full and part-time vendors, rural vendors, vendor farmers, vendors who are part of family businesses, and vendors with disabilities.

The training Objectives were:

  • Providing local entrepreneurs/vendors with appropriate training and support to transition smoothly from informal to formal businesses
  • Strengthening partnership between MWCSD and its Economic Partners through program delivery
  • Formalizing vendors businesses by obtaining a business license and benefitting from schemes and packages under the Micro, Small, Medium Enterprises (MSME) support.
  • Building and enhancing the capacity of vendors in using digital and social media platforms for business operations and advanced marketing

The training program has being delivered by the Samoa Business Hub together with Stakeholder Partners such as the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Labor, the Ministry for Customs and Revenue, the Unit Trust of Samoa, Accidents and Compensation Corporation and other Partners from the Private Sector. Through this training, the vendors are not only able to advance their knowledge on financial literacy and business management but also to heighten their awareness on the business license processes in Samoa, the guidelines for occupational safety and health, making smart investments and so forth. The activities under this program intervention are linked to the national, regional and international goals considering Samoa’s commitments to the outcomes under the Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 5 & 8, S.A.M.O.A Pathway Resolutions 23-27 and the Pathway for the Development of Samoa FY 2021- FY2026.

  • SDG goals – 1. No Poverty, 2. No Hunger 5. Gender Equality, 8. Good Jobs and Economic Growth.
  • Samoa Pathway Resolutions 23 to 27 : Sustained, Sustainable, Inclusive and Equitable Economic Growth and Decent Work for All
  • PDS Key Strategic Outcome 1: Improved Social Development
  • i. Key Priority Area 1: Alleviating Hardship

    ii. Key Priority Area 4: People Empowerment

  • PDS Key Strategic Outcome 2: Diversified and Sustainable Economy
  • i. Key Priority Area 6: Community Development

On way forward, the Ministry of Women Community and Social Development will continue to monitor the progress of these vendors and their businesses and provide technical assistance in collaboration with our stakeholder partners to ensure the smooth transitioning of these vendors from micro to small and upscale to medium entrepreneurships in the future. There was a phrase of encouragement stated by one of the successful vendor from Savaii during his presentation that quoted; “Faamaoni e galue ma totogi loans o le a manuia lau pisinisi”.

The Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development would like to acknowledge the extensive support of UN Women through the Markets for Change (M4C) Project in making this first transitioning training program possible for our Vendors.