Kam Baek Trade Fair celebrates return of women in business
Women-owned businesses impacted by COVID-19 celebrated their return to business as usual at a Kam Baek Trade Fair hosted by Solomon Islands Women in Business Association (SIWIBA).
The Solomon Islands Government joined forces with the Australian funded-program, Strongim Bisnis to support SIWIBA to hold the fair over four days during the Independence week.
The trade fair marked the return for women owned businesses who had been significantly impacted by the pandemic, SIWIBA’s CEO Ethel Wasuka said at the opening ceremony last week.
“The Kam Baek Trade Fair provides an opportunity for women in business to sell and showcase their goods, connect with members of the private sector and each other as they return to business and focus on recovering from COVID-19,” Ms Wasuka said.
The socio-economic and business environment in Solomon Islands presents many challenges for women in business, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, Riley Mesepitu said in his address.
It was important for the public and private sector to work together to tackle these barriers, PS Riley said.
“COVID-19 stopped us from business as usual but here we are witnessing the return of many women in business who were severely impacted.
This shows that you women are very strong,” PS Riley remarked at the opening ceremony.
“The Kam Baek Trade Fair is the fruition of the joint efforts of the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments to break the barriers, bridge the gaps and provide opportunities for women in business, ” PS Riley said.
Australia is a long-term supporter of women’s economic empowerment in Solomon Islands, the Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Sally Anne Vincent said.
“I proudly reaffirm Australia’s common commitment to empowering women and achieving gender equality. We remain committed to supporting SIWIBA both through Strongim Bisnis and directly through Australia’s Gender Program, where we provide leadership and governance training and support.”
“We want to see SIWIBA grow from strength to strength, especially as we all recover from the pandemic” Ms Vincent said.
“We are a proud partner of Solomon Islands, supporting women’s economic empowerment with programs across many sectors encouraging meaningful and inclusive participation in the economy and creating new opportunities for women. I also acknowledge the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration for their support to this event” Ms Vincent said.
Supporting SIWIBA members to get through the pandemic was a big challenge for the board and secretariat team, SIWIBA chair Pamela Zoloveke said.
“We were determined to keep SIWIBA afloat and make sure that our women were able to return to business as soon as possible,” Mrs Zoloveke said.
Business skills training provided by Strongim Bisnis during this challenging period was a timely and encouraging initiative, the SIWIBA chair said.
“The Strongim Bisnis training really helped to motivate and refocus our members. We are very grateful for the support both the Solomon Islands and Australian Governments have provided. We encourage both governments to continue this important work supporting women business owners to enter and participate in the formal sector,” Mrs Zoloveke said.
Strongim Bisnis partners with SIWIBA as part of its focus on creating better economic opportunities for women, youth and people living with disabilities. The program works with local partners in the cocoa, coconut, tourism, financial services, timber, horticulture and waste management sectors.