8 September, 2017. Samoa – Farming should be considered a viable worthy profession by the youth of Samoa. Youth should not wait for government to provide jobs for them, but rather, make use of the land to help provide for their families.
These were the views expressed by the President of the Women in Business Development Inc (WIBDI), Peseta Afoa Tiotio.
Speaking at the visit to their WIBDI office, of the British Minister for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Ms Tiotio said, “People have this mentality that being a doctor or lawyer, or any desk job is a suitable profession, but what about farming.”
“The young people shouldn’t wait around for the Government to provide jobs for them. They can have their own jobs by farming their own land.”
“In Samoa, most of us do not have to buy or rent land and we have the opportunity to plant fruits and vegetables for our own use. Imported produce is expensive, but we can all plant our own little gardens no matter how small. ”
She also stated that the youth should disregard the social stigma attached to farming and look at the amount of income available for farming produce.
Lord Ahmad was visiting WIBDI to learn more about their community-based projects.
President of WIBDI, Peseta Afoa Tiotio explained, “We have a different approach, we don’t focus on just women, but we focus on the whole family. If you empower the whole family, it will include the women and children. We encourage these families to create a savings account with us, which they can withdraw upon for school fees of their children.”
WIBDI currently has around 1,500 community producers in Samoa, through their assistance; grass-root level families have been empowered and educated in business management and production of the final products.
Expressing his admiration, Lord Ahmad said, “I think your family model is quite an interesting and powerful model. So you are working collectively, a thing we are all challenged by, especially with the diminishing role of families.”
According to Lord Ahmad, the international market is becoming more cognisant about where products are produced, an advantage for WIBDI organic products.
President Tiotio said, “As President, I am very pleased that the Minister has come all the way to meet us, and has given his support. I also request that you consider sustaining existing projects such as WIBDI to allow the projects to grow and develop within the community.”
In reply, Lord Ahmad said, “What you have done so far through your projects has been a major achievement, I must admit you have struck a real chord with me about family and community based projects. What you have created is an advancement for you whole community.”
Lord Ahmad then spoke about the U.K’s support of social enterprise in Samoa and across the Pacific region.
“First I am delighted that the British Government funded the Active Citizens Programme and it will send several participants to Christchurch, New Zealand, for the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 (from the 17th – 29th of September). We want to connect the Pacific participants and their international peers, so they can learn from each other’s experience and share stories about their social enterprise journey”.
“We also want to raise awareness amongst political and business leaders at the Forum about the opportunities social enterprises provide to meet Sustainable Development Goals by using a business model to create positive social impact”.
“I am also pleased to announce that the first Active Citizens programme in Samoa will take place in November this year. The programme will work with partners around the globe, helping to train participants in the skills and knowledge they need to affect change in their communities”.
In the Pacific, the focus will be on social enterprise, youth leadership and gender equality. Participants will include social entrepreneurs and young leaders from Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and other Pacific Island nations.