[Rakiraki, Fiji – 22 March] – Market vendors in Rakiraki have embarked on a new journey by adopting specially prepared financial record keeping tools to track their income.
Yesterday, they proudly showed their up to date record books to Nicholas Rosellini, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, and shared their experiences of how the capacity building project has had an impact on their lives and the lives of their families and dependents.
The financial record keeping tool is part of a larger capacity building effort known as the “Strengthening Women’s Economic Security and Rights: Capacity Building Project for Women Market Vendors” which has benefited 300 women who come from the rural areas in and around Rakiraki as well as the town itself and is facilitated by UNDP in partnership with the Rakiraki Town Council and the local Market Vendors Association.
During his visit to Rakiraki, Mr. Rosellini was briefed on the project by Seini Raiko, the Special Interim Administrator of the Rakiraki Town Council. He also met market vendors who have benefitted from the project as well as representatives of the Market Vendors Association.
“UNDP values the partnership with the Rakiraki Town Council and the Market Vendors Association, the Ministry of Local Government and other departments as well as UN Women. Under the strong leadership of the Rakiraki Town Council, this project has reached many milestones,” said Mr Rosellini.
“I am pleased to be told that the Government of Fiji intends to expand this successful initiative to the other towns in Fiji. UNDP would like to see this project replicated in other Pacific Island Countries.”
Market vendor, Rohini Nand, who keeps weekly financial records, said the tool has changed the way she managed money.
“By writing down what income I earn and the money I spend, I am able to see where the money goes. The financial record keeping books are very helpful in my planning for my work,” said Mrs. Nand.
UNDP supported the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED) to provide tools and training to market vendors as well as help them in mentoring in financial record keeping.
Mr. Rosellini was also able to see first-hand the functioning of the UNDP supported Market Learning Centre. When he visited yesterday, representatives of the National Fire Authority were disseminating fire safety messages to the vendors.
The Strengthening Women’s Economic Security and Rights: Capacity Building Programme for Women Market Vendors Project has a multi-pronged approach – improving the Town Council’s income generation and management capacity, working with women market vendors to improve their business skills and strengthening the governance of the market vendors association. Improving the governance of the Association was important for ensuring the views of women are heard and presented as priorities to the Council and more women are involved in leading and managing the Association.
The success of the pilot project in Rakiraki has generated much interest in other town councils in Fiji. The project is part of a larger Millennium Markets project run by UNDP through its Pacific Centre in partnership with UN Women.