Getting down to business!

How do you balance running a community-based enterprise with the traditional roles and responsibilities of village life?

This was a fundamental issue that arose at a recent workshop with the business committees from each of our four current partner communities: Naga, Nabalesere, Navai, and Nubutautau.

In sharing with each other their experiences, several key themes emerged. These included: the importance of having a clear governance structure and agreeing how this relate to existing village structures, such as the village committee; maintaining transparency; having a clear separation of funds for the enterprise as distinct from the village funds; and having agreement from across the village on how funds would be used.

Meli Naiqama, from Navai explained how their current income from trips to climb Mt Tomaniivi is divided between payments to the guides, to the household that prepares afternoon tea, and then split between funds for track maintenance, installing flush toilets, covering kindergarten fees, and saving for building accommodation for future guests.

Held in Nadi and Sabeto, and facilitated by trainers from the Department of Cooperatives and the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprise Development (NCSMED), topics included governance, business planning, financial management and record-keeping. We also visited restaurants and Aviva Farm to give community members a broader experience of the tourism sector; and found plenty of lessons to learn during a showing of the recent film, Everest.

Vinaka vakalevu to the Market Development Facility for making this possible.