Budgeting, SMEs and a healthy qoliqoli
That was the aim of a one day financial capacity workshop held at Vesi village in Mali District, Macuata recently.
Sustainable Landuse and Livelihoods Officer, Unaisi Malani-Tagicakibau, said the district’s main source of income is fishing.
However, the combined fishing effort from qoliqoli owners and external parties placed too much pressure on both marine resources and the Great Sea Reef, which runs north of the village.
The financial training essentially taught villagers about budgeting that hopefully will allow them to plan their daily needs better and reduce the number of times they go out fishing for both food and income.
The workshop is an activity under the Building Effective Community Driven Governance Systems in Mali district to Enhance Community Access to Food, Income Generating Opportunities and Livelihoods project funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian government and managed through the Fiji Community Development Program.
Training target groups included women and youth groups. Empowered such, these groups are motivated to set up small and micro enterprises to remove their exclusive reliance on marine resources.
“Women and youth groups are often overlooked in terms of their earning capacities, so if we can encourage and train them to balance out the earnings of their village communities, there will be less pressure on the men to go out and fish for more, thus reducing their reliance on their marine ecosystems,” Malani-Tagicakibau said.
“The island of Mali is situated on the edge of the Great Sea Reef, which is a focus for most of WWF South Pacific’s work. The GSR has been under pressure from the fishing activities of its surrounding communities and workshops such as this will go a long way in ensuring the longevity of this precious marine ecosystem.”
Westpac Banking Corporation provided the corporate support essential in ensuring coastal communities continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable marine environment.
The Micro-Business and Financial Literacy section of the bank provided the training. Bank officer, Torika Waqairawai, applauded WWF South Pacific’s initiative in involving the financial expertise of the corporate sector in empowering these groups.
“This particular workshop is targeted at village communities and is to assist them to achieve their money goals and make communities more financially independent and successful as well,” she said.
“And I commend WWF’s efforts in conducting such a training because it shows that the organisation is taking a holistic approach in making sure that the communities they work with are equipped with all the training necessary to ensure they manage their marine and land resources better,” Waqairawai said.
She added that the most important thing she wanted the participants to walk away with was the ability to differentiate between their needs and their wants and to prioritise.
“When they get this right, they will be able to better plan and manage their financial resources and it is hoped it will positively impact on the better management of their natural resources,” Waqairawai added.
Ligaulevu villager, Rima Saukilagi, said even though the workshop was only for one day, he learnt so much that will help not only him but the other youths from his village.
“For a living we survive on fishing and we work our farms and lands to keep us rolling for the year, but whatever money is earned from these activities is wasted on unnecessary expenses , and the more money we waste the more times we need to go out to sea to fish to make more money,” Saukilagi said.
“The cycle keeps repeating itself and at times this puts a strain on our natural resources.
“This workshop has taught us how to budget based on the limited amount of assets that we have and it has also given us ideas on possible projects we can start up in the village,” he added.
Matailabasa villager, and mother of five children, Kinisimere Watisili said the workshop has been an eye opener for her considering she is the person responsible for managing the family budget.
“Levu na gauna da dau vakayagataka tu vakaveitalia nai lavo, au dau lai volovoli sa oti na volivoli ia se vo tiko nai lavo, qai dau vakayagataki tu ena so na ka e dau malele kina na yaloda”, (Many a times, whatever we earn is being wasted, and when I go and do our family shopping whatever money is left over is usually wasted on things that we do not need)
She added her family’s main source of income was derived from the sea, and sometimes if there was a family or village function, she and her husband would have to go out to sea more often to meet those financial obligations.
“Au marautaka vakalevu na vuli oqo baleta sa kani vuli saraga vei au ka au sa mai vulica talega na kena bibi na tuvatuva matau ni ka vakailavo ni bula ni matavuvale, kei na kena I sema kina noda maroroya na noda yaubula,” (I am very happy to have attended this workshop because it has taught me how to better budget our family income which in turn also helps in the protection and management of our natural resources).
The district of Mali has four villages, Vesi, Ligaiula, Nakawaga and Matailabasa.