During the month of February nine businesswomen have begun their journey in the Phoenix Women in Business program lead by the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC). The Phoenix Project is a COVID-19 response project funded by the Women’s Peace & Humanitarian Fund, with technical support from UN Women and is only one of 5 such grants awarded in the Pacific. “We were delighted that for the first time Vanuatu has been granted this sort of funding and that it was our bid that was chosen out of the global competitive selection” says Glen Craig, VBRC Chairman. “As a result, the participating women business owners will be given the tools to endure the current period of economic downturn, then supported to grow their business the right way. The core focus of this is accelerating economic recovery by providing targeted support to women small business owners who in turn will lead the economic recovery of their communities.” he adds.
VBRC have engaged with the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) who will provide specialist support to these women lead businesses over a one-year period. This includes a mix of life coaching sessions, mentoring, business skills coaching and leadership skills development. The initial coaching, they receive in the initial months included a one on one CANVAS workshop where each business started assessments for business planning purposes and this is followed by strong focus on correct financial management. To date they have studied cashflow management, pricing and record keeping. The workshops are delivered by industry experts and specialists are engaged to support where required to ensure that the program is tailored to the specific needs of these women and their businesses. In addition, they will be receiving mentoring which will focus on one-on-one support at the client’s workplace by mentors experienced in running their own businesses in Vanuatu. This has proven especially important to building confidence and implementing the learning in real life situations.
The successful candidates come from all walks of life and represent many different industries. VCCI carefully selected women who were already in business, met the selection criteria and who demonstrated willingness to evolve and grow as well as focus on their leadership roles. The chosen women include Doroline Laloyer of Queenie’s Vegetarian Restaurant, Feby Mai Ben who is a Tailor and Specialist in Textile Painting, Chanelle Bjornum-Motuliki of Tehya Skye Vanuatu an Organic Beauty Brand, Josephine Ben Upholsterer & Tailor, Grace Florie Sese of Majech Construction, Sophie Tariliu owner of Sophie Nakamal & Riso Restaurant, Elizabeth M Wabaiat owner of Em Store & Kava Bar, Sylvie Mansale Vatoko owner of Sabrina’s shop & Tailoring and Lelanee Vatu owner of Foxy Cakes.
“It’s exciting to see the women grasp these new skills and seeing them empowered to grow” says Katrina Sali the project co-ordinator. There is great pride and enjoyment amongst the support team enabling the women’s journey as this project feels like exactly the support that is now required.