Oxfam New Zealand’s partnership with Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI) began in 2001 with an income generation and microfinance project, aimed at improving livelihoods in local communities.
For many women it has been a life changing opportunity.
Here’s what Mano and Fagaote had to say...
Mano Lami from Siumu village.
Before we joined WIBDI programme we earned nothing from our huge coconut farm. We used to produce copra but didn’t earn any benefit from it because the price was too low so we stopped. Then I heard about WIBDI’s coconut oil production.
When our farm became fully certified organic, the priced increased. We now earn a lot from our production and from the income we earned we have managed to extend our house and build two garages.
We can also afford to pay our electricity bills as well as paying our church donations, especially the very big annual one called the taulaga o Samoa. We used to rely on remittances from my children and relatives overseas to pay our bills and church donations, but this is no longer the case since we joined WIBDI, because now we have the money.
During church meetings I have courage to raise motions and voice out my thoughts and I’ve even been elected church secretary which I accepted. The coconut oil project has done a lot for my family.”
Fagaote Lealaiauloto from Vavau village.
“Before I joined the Women in Business programme, I was hopeless. I didn’t have money for village affairs, especially the church donation and usually I kept quiet during church donation discussions.
Since I joined the WIBDI programme, there have been a lot of changes in the development of my family. I got money on hand most of the time for family *fa’alavelave and I can afford to pay my electricity bill on time. I can also pay my church donations and I [can] also afford to pay school fees for my children.
During the village or church meetings I have courage to voice my opinions and thoughts because I have things to prove it, and the village now recognise and respect my opinions.
I [have] also offered help to a friend from another village because his land borders on mind and we were trained in organic farming together and received certification together. Being part of the WIBDI organic coconut oil project…I can buy coconuts from my friend's farm as well.”
* Fa’alavelave: Samoan cultural event e.g. wedding, funeral, church dedication etc.