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Ana Sets Example for Women Entrepreneurs-Women in entrepreneurship

Women in entrepreneurship has allowed them a space to grow and expand their capabilities to become the best in running a business.

A perfect example is single mother Ana Malumuvatu, who runs a successful kava business in Nadi.

Her business idea flourished in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic with a loan of $1000 from a financial institution.

From that loan, she then partnered with her brother who would toil the land.

Together, they bought wholesale yaqona to roll the business which was about 3000 to 5000 yaqona [plants] on the farm.

Unfortunately, Tropical cyclone Yasa struck and affected their investment, but they remained unmoved.

She put her mind in order once again and explored the assistance she got.

Her greatest motivation was her responsibily to 200 kava farmers on her island home, Taveuni.

“It is not about me all the time but those who stand with me all the time,” Ms Malumuvatu.

“Now we have about nine staff who are women, and we export to PNG, and we will be opening up with other markets soon with a bigger mission in the US market as there are a huge number of Fijians residing there.”

Last week, her kava business exported 250kg of kava to PNG.

Prior to starting her kava business, she ran a kava bar in 2021 from their residence in Martintar.

However, it was put on hold because of COVID restrictions.

In February 2022, she found light at the end of the tunnel with the kava bar in full swing a stone’s throw from her residence.

At the same time, she exported kava to family members overseas; but needed more leverage because of issues with cash flow.

Over the year she has flown the Fijian flag at trade shows overseas, but it all began with the year (six-months) programme in Fiji, which is for emerging women leaders in business.

Her participation opened her mind and empowered her to tap into other opportunities available, from $12,000 investment in Kavalicous Tavern that has a kitchen to a commercial space serving as a kitchen and a Kava bar, where it produces Kava chocolate cookie, Kava popsicles, kava soap, and Kava moisturisers

Her commitment delivers a unique Fijian culinary experience where some of the products are sold at Prouds at the Nadi International Airport.

Given her many ups and downs, Ms Malumuvatu believes that entrepreneurs should keep creating unique versions of their products to add extra value to their brand.

“Always keep an open mind in whatever you do. Also, have a no-say attitude that will go a long way. I thank my partner, my son, and family members who have faith in my vision in my business acumen,” she said.

She also noted that when dealing with family members to sell your product do contact Investment Fiji to get better advice and work on a sustainable business model.

“If I can do it, any woman out there can do it.”

https://fijisun.com.fj/2024/03/11/ana-sets-example-for-women-entrepreneurs/?amp=1

Spotlight | Growing Fiji’s kava industry

Kava has grown to be one of Fiji’s major agricultural trade commodities, contributing significantly to the nation’s gross domestic product.

Figures from 2022 showed that it brought in more than $40million in exports and this, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Trade Minister Manoa Kamikamica, could easily grow and surpass the earnings of the sugar industry.

“It will potentially surpass sugar. For the markets of Europe, United Kingdom, and China, we’re looking at trying to open them up and so the opportunity for more production is certainly there,” Mr Kamikamica said.

“We need to probably put some regulations around it just to make sure that the quality is consistent and safe for consumption but it’s an exciting time for the kava growth. If we play our cards right, there should be a bit of a boom in the kava industry in the years to come.”

Fiji’s major current kava export destinations are the United States, Australia, and New Zealand while other export destinations include Marshall Islands, Hawaii and Nauru.

Last week, the European Union (EU) showed interest in working with the Fiji Government on a possible resumption of commercial kava export to the EU markets.

Currently there’s a ban on kava exports into Europe which came into effect in early 2000.

But imagine if China, UK, Europe, and countries opened their markets to Fiji and allow us to export kava to them?

Government on Kadavu kava

It is common knowledge in Fiji that Kadavu has quite a large number of kava farmers and is a main source of income for those on the island.

A study conducted by the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Plus (PHAMA Plus) Program in 2018 showed that there were 1529 kava farmers on Kadavu, second to Cakaudrove province with 3005 farmers.

However, these numbers could have grown significantly over the past two or three years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic period when most people returned to their villages for a period of one or two years.

Mr Kamikamica had taken a three-day cooperative and small and medium enterprises tour on Kadavu early this month where he visited villages and held discussions with farmers, including the Kadavu Kava Farmers Co-op and the Kadavu Co-op Association.

“Basically, in a very broad sense, Kadavu is one of the largest producers of kava in Fiji and as a resource owner, we’d like to think that they capture more of the benefit on the island. At the moment the middlemen are coming to Kadavu and then they really don’t get any benefit beyond the purchase price here,” he said.

“So, there’s a discussion going in terms of how we can optimise the benefit of the effort that goes into the ground. It is sort of a four to five-year crop and so when it’s harvested, we, as a government, we feel that more needs to be done so that they can actually benefit from the hard labour.

“That can potentially mean so many things, including centralising kava supply under a cooperative, but that needs the consent of the vanua, the chiefs of Kadavu and also the people. That’s part of an ongoing discussion.”

He said the idea of supplying a kava cooperative was not new as thias was a process used by provinces before.

“It’s not a new idea. It’s been floated before, but I think this government more than any, is probably well positioned to have those very constructive conversations and ultimately, if the owners of kava here are able to export directly into markets, that transforms the livelihood in terms of getting more benefits.

“I mentioned in the village of Niudua, that kava is potentially a billion dollar industry for Fiji. It will potentially surpass sugar. The markets of Europe, United Kingdom, and China, we’re looking at trying to open them up and so the opportunity for more production is certainly there.

“We need to probably put some regulations around it just to make sure that the quality is consistent and safe for consumption but it’s an exciting time for the kava growth.”

Mr Kamikamica said if our cards were played right, there should be a bit of a boom in the kava industry in the years to come.

 

https://www.fijitimes.com.fj/spotlight-growing-fijis-kava-industry/

InsideStory | Revival of Fiji’s coffee industry

Bula Coffee, has been harvesting coffee cherries from wild coffee trees in the highlands of Navosa and villages surrounding Sigatoka.

According to Bula Coffee founder Luke Fryett, the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) had found more than 40 varieties of coffee plants in Fiji, one of which was thought to have been extinct and another, has never been found anywhere in the world.

He said coffee cherries are harvested by women, who make up about 85 per cent of the 5000 locals in their database, who are in the coffee harvesting business in Fiji.

From cherries to beans

Once harvested, it could take anywhere from three to four months for coffee cherries to become coffee beans.

“We float it first where it’s put in water and all the bad ones float to the top. Then it goes through a machine that takes the skin off, and washes mucilage off, and then gets sit out to dry,” Mr Fryett explained.

“When it gets sit out to dry, it gets turned every 20 minutes or so for the first few days so that it dry out evenly. We have some staff that get to do that. They call themselves the ‘gossip girls’ because they come to work and just stand on either side of the rack and work their way down and by the end they start again.

“But they do a hand-grade as well, so any that’s looking bad, they take it out.”

The cherries are then hulled where layers of skin surrounding the seeds are removed before it goes through a coffee-size grader machine which grades it by size. Small sizes get passed through while bigger beans fall off the top because they couldn’t fit through the hole.

“Then there’s an international sizing for coffee. So, when we say we have a B12 batch, that’s an international standard so anyone buying would know what size their coffee would be.

“Then if we’re exporting it, it goes through another hand-grading where we spread it out on the table and we look for any beans that have like black spots or anything on them.

“That’s the final one before it gets exported.”

Bula Coffee customers

At the moment, Bula Coffee is supplying to Tropica Island Resort, Barefoot Manta Island Resort Fiji, Barefoot Kuata Island Resort, Qamea Resort and Spa, a few shops and Extra Supermarket.

Mr Fryett said the response from local hoteliers and businesses have not really gone to their favour as most seemed like they “are not interested in the coffee industry itself”.

“They’re more interested in the money they can make from coffee. But we’re really in a difficult position because in theory, everything we harvest we could sell to those people in France and in Italy that are really keen on it.

“But where does that leave us with supplying locals?

“When we established, like right from when we started in 2011, we’ve always wanted to establish the Fiji coffee industry so we’re in a bit of a dilemma here.”

Financial limitations

Currently, Bula Coffee is only buying about 60 tonnes a year for $2 per kilogram.

And due to coffee harvesting being an annual affair, this meant that Bula Coffee has to have $120,000 sitting in its bank account every year during harvesting season.

“Our problem is always cash flow. Like, if you’re exporting cassava, or if you’re exporting yaqona, or whatever, you can plant it and then harvest it, plant it then harvest it. But we only harvest once in a year.

“So, we buy 60 tonnes at $2 a kg each. That’s $120,000. We have to have that money sitting in our bank account that we can pay out in a space of two months because that’s the only harvest we can get.

“If we had $500,000, we could buy way more coffee. It’s having that cash flow ready, because it’s not something like if we sell some coffee, get money, and buy more coffee because we only get one harvest in a year.”

Mr Fryett said during this time they would also be paying staff and running a business so budgeting could be really tight at times.

Fiji’s potential

According to him, if Fiji’s coffee industry was well-looked after and received the support it needed, “it could be bigger than the sugar industry, it could easily become the main agricultural export for Fiji”.

“We really believe in Fiji’s coffee industry and that it should be grown and that locals should be owning it. Like if you go to Vanuatu, you’ll see them selling Vanuatu coffee, you come to Fiji we’re selling Australian coffee.

“I think it has the potential to grow really big, and really fast. But we’ve also got to approach it with a little bit of caution. We don’t want to
just give the women the seedlings and tell them to go and plant it because if it’s not the right variety for, it’s not going to work.

“It might grow but they won’t get much coffee out of it, and they might lose hope and words will spread and this will dishearten others.

“I think it has got huge potential, but it’s got to be managed well, and it’s got to have a lot of support around it for the coffee farmers. I actually really believe that it could be Fiji’s main export in 20 to 30 years if it’s well-looked
after.”

He said Fiji’s current coffee industry has defeated theorists who say that coffee will only grow in “moist soil that’s well-draining like sandy soil,
‘maybe 20 per cent sand so that it can drain and everything’, but it seems to just grow everywhere here”.

“So, I’m sure that there’s a perfect soil type but I don’t know enough about it.

“One place that we went to, you can walk for about an hour and a half, through this one place and there’s just coffee plants on either sides of the track, as far as you can see.”

Interest from overseas

After attending HostMilano, the international trade exhibition of food and hospitality from all over world, Mr Fryett said a number of overseas coffee roasters have shown interest in working with Bula Coffee.

An agriculture and engineering school university is also looking to send one of its students in May for a 13-week exchange program, while another two, both studying agronomy, will also be visiting.

So far, everything seemed to be going according to plan for Mr Fryett and his dream of reviving Fiji’s coffee industry.

Especially, after finally receiving the $US25,000 ($F55,955) from government which was donated by the Indonesian government late last year.

The funds will be used to help establish small holder coffee farms in the highlands of Viti Levu.

Calmer Co. Kava products in Coles supermarkets nationwide; online sales soar

Calmer Co. International Limited (ASX:CCO), a trailblazer in health and wellness products, has unveiled a groundbreaking development for its natural product line. Come January 2024, Coles Supermarkets across Australia will feature Calmer Co.’s 50mL Taki Mai® kava-shot and 150g FijiKava® Noble Kava® — a significant foray into the Australian market’s “low/no” alcohol alternatives sector, currently valued at over US$11 billion in 2023.

This introduction marks a historic debut of a ready-to-drink kava product in Australia, catering to the escalating demand for alcohol alternatives. The Taki Mai® kava-shot, available exclusively at Coles, boasts a minimal ingredient list, comprising kava, cold water, and nothing else. With just 5 calories, less than 1.2g total carbs, 0.3g sugar, and over 5 times the potassium of a banana, it stands as a healthy choice for consumers seeking an alternative to traditional alcoholic beverages.

Coles, at the forefront of introducing drinking kava products, initially introduced the FijiKava® Noble Kava® 50g in 2022 following the Australian Government’s Kava Pilot Importation Trial. Building on the success of this venture, a larger 150g FijiKava® Noble Kava® product will now be available in over 300 Coles stores.

The FijiKava® Instant 150g, a best-seller on platforms like Amazon.com (USA) and www.fijikava.com.au, with daily sales exceeding $3500, will see increased accessibility through Coles Supermarkets.

Calmer Co., holding a unique position as the sole foreign entity licensed to operate in the Fijian kava industry, expresses gratitude for its partnership with Coles. CEO Anthony Noble highlights the success of this collaboration in making kava more widely accessible to Australians.

Noble underlines the significance of the 150g Drinking Kava addition, citing its rapid growth in online channels. He introduces the Taki Mai® kava-shot as an innovative product, providing the benefits of kava in a convenient and appealing format. Noble underscores the health advantages of reduced alcohol consumption combined with the relaxing effects and established health benefits of kava.

“The Taki Mai® kava-shot is an extremely exciting new product for us,” said Noble. “It is amazing to see just how healthy the kava-shot is with only 5 calories; it is sure to be a hit with those who, like me, are watching their weight but still wanting to relax and socialise in a healthy way this summer.”

As Australia’s interest in health-conscious alternatives continues to grow, the introduction of these kava products in Coles Supermarkets aligns with evolving consumer preferences, offering a unique and culturally significant option for relaxation and well-being.

Online sales soar

Meanwhile the company has announced a notable 70 per cent surge in e-store sales for the month of November 2023 alone. This remarkable achievement precedes the upcoming nationwide launch in Coles (COL) stores scheduled for January 2024. Consumers will soon become acquainted with the company’s flagship product, FijiKava, a health drink renowned for its relaxation effects. Additionally, a smaller “shot” product will also be available for distribution.

Calmer has also initiated shipping to New Zealand, citing promising early-stage demand. Sales in the US through Amazon continue to show strength.

“The marketing strategy has been extremely well targeted and we have seen increasing sales order volume and increasing basket value across the month,” Calmer CEO Anthony Noble was quoted as saying in the media.

https://afbc.org.au/news/calmer-co-breaks-ground-with-kava-products-in-coles-supermarkets-nationwide/

The Best Fijian-made Food Products To Take Home With You

Explore Food & Drink experiences in Fiji

From award-winning gins and rums to fiery hot sauces and fine-flavoured dark chocolate, Fiji’s list of specialty products is gaining popularity overseas. Most products can be found in major supermarkets, large retailers, at the airport or an online store. Here’s some of the best Fiji-made products to fill your suitcase with when you leave Fiji.

Alcohol

There’s a lot more to drink in Fiji than the iconic local lager, Fiji Bitter. Rum Co of Fiji‘s exquisite range of rums have been racking up international awards since they started the distillery in 1980. Operating out of their Lautoka base, Rum Co uses locally produced molasses, pristine island water and the best local ingredients to make their rum. Their Fiji Bati rum range (Spiced and Dark) is especially good; the best in the South Pacific. No base spirit is used in the rum which is made from sugar cane-based products and local botanicals sourced from farmers and villages all over Viti Levu.

Fiji is also home to one of the world’s highest rated new-world gins. The Distillery Co’s Blue Turtle Gin is the first and only craft gin ever made in Fiji, and it’s already won a Gold Medal at the World Gin Awards and a Gold Medal at The American Distillers Institute Awards. There’s everything from Kava to Layalaya (natural ginger) to Moli Kula (golden lemon) and curry leaves used in the gin – a true taste of Fiji.

Find both products at the Nadi airport and in large retail stores throughout Fiji.

Hot Sauce

If you love spice, then you can’t leave Fiji without trying some of the awesome hot sauces. With a large Indo-Fijian population and Fiji Bongo chillies (a type of habernero), Fiji is a recipe for hot sauce heaven.

Fiji Fire Bongo Chilli Hot Sauce uses wild turmeric collected by local Fijian women for a kick that pays tribute to Fiji’s legendary fire walkers. It’s combined with pepper, carrots, and naturally brewed vinegar for a pleasant tart taste which works as well on eggs in the morning and as well as fish dinners. It’s all natural too with no flavour enhancers or colour, and buying the sauce supports local farmers.

FRIEND Fiji’s tasty chutneys and sauces are another popular choice. FRIEND’s Chutney is made from Bongo chillies and is prepared by locals using traditional recipes handed down over generations, with all fruits grown organically around Fiji. Their tangy tamarind chutney pairs well with curried meat dishes.. And the Sweet Mango Chutney with cardamoms and cloves is well worth taking home too, along with their teas, spices, jams and gluten-free flours as well.

Find both products at the Nadi airport and in large retail stores throughout Fiji.

Snacks

There are a few go-to snacks that Fijians reach for between meals or to have with a few cold beers. We highly recommend hoarding a few (dozen) for your pantry back home.

Family-owned Bhikhabhai, the largest manufacturer of Indian savoury snacks in Fiji uses only natural ingredients and traditional methods for their products. You can pick up a few packets at their stores in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba, and order them online. Similar savoury snacks are available in retail stores across Fiji. Spicy, salty with plenty of taste and crunch, they can be highly addictive.

And whatever you do, pack a few jars of Fiji-made Island-style Peanut Butter! Batch roasted healthy high oleic peanuts and flavoured with natural ingredients like coconut oil, sea salt and crunchy coconut flakes, this decadent peanut butter makes smoothies, cookies and spreads. Available in crunchy, smooth and chocolate in Fijian supermarkets.

Chocolate

Speaking of chocolate, don’t leave Fiji without a few fine-flavoured dark chocolate bars. Fiji’s cacao beans have won global recognition at competitions as far afield as London.

Nadi-based Vanua Chocolate are leading the charge with their award-winning Bean to Bar craft chocolate using locally grown cacao and sugar cane. Cacao is harvested and fermented on the same day and dried in the sun under strict quality controls. Stop by Vanua Café in Nadi to take a tour of their chocolate factory and pick up a few of their delicious bars which include interesting flavours like chili, ginger and kava.

KokoMana’s delicious hand-made chocolate is crafted in an agroforest in Savusavu. The enterprising couple who run this small business are passionate about chocolate, agriculture, sustainability and sharing their knowledge with local communities. Take a tour of the property where you’ll see the entire tree to bar process and taste test these heavenly treats.

Fijiana Cacao and ADI Chocolate also make their chocolate in small batches the old-fashioned way; doing it by hand to ensure quality is always premium. They source only local ingredients, and each piece takes 200 days to produce, ensuring only the finest chocolate is ready for sale. Take some home with you to remember Fiji by.

Coffee

Bula Coffee’s very first coffee beans were accidentally found growing wild in the Fijian highlands in 2011. Since then, the company has established a name for itself being 100 percent organic and sustainable. Every bean roasted at their Sigatoka factory is grown in the remote highlands of Viti Levu where they work with villagers to support rural economic empowerment. Visit their factory for a tour, a hot cuppa and a chance to pick up a few bags of their wonderful coffee.

Herbal Drinks

Fiji Noni juice is used by people all over the world for its health benefits. The bitter, green, lumpy fruit is known in Asia and the Pacific for its fantastic medicinal properties. High in vitamins, enzymes and alkaloids, Noni is consumed to cure everything from reducing cellular damage, arthritis and infections.

300 Islands is also making a name for itself in Fiji. The brainchild of two local women who wanted to create a healthier alternative to alcohol, 300 Islands is made with Fijian ginger, pure Fijian honey and local vanilla beans. Fijian ginger is amongst the best in the world for its health properties and is a great immune booster. Find it stocked at premium department stores, duty free stores and boutiques across Fiji and Australia.

To truly calm yourself down though you need to try kava. Taki Mai Kava is prepared from the dried roots of kava plants which grow all over Fiji. A big part of ceremonies and social gatherings, locals drink it from coconut shells, and it’s known to have calming affects.
Source;  https://www.fiji.travel/articles/fijian-made-food-products-to-take-home

Industry Spotlight: ‘Make It in Fiji’

Manufacturing has an immense potential in Fiji. The Fijian government is building a sustainable and globally competitive manufacturing sector through targeted assistance and a sound enabling environment for the private sector.

Click on the latest insights below from the Textile, Clothing & Footwear (TCF) Council of Fiji for more information about why you should ‘Make It in Fiji’

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