Excitement builds up

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Shamima Ali, Ann Steele, Marita Manley, Eleazor O’Connor. Picture: SUPPLIED

Excitement is building for the Women Entrepreneurs Business Council (WEBC) WIN Convention that is scheduled at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva on Friday 24th March and Saturday 25th March 2023.

The WIN Convention has an excellent line up of up to 20 prominent and eminent speakers spread across the two days with 7 panel discussions and includes a parallel panel discussion session on the second day.

The WIN Convention is expected to give delegates an amazing opportunity to learn and network with women from across the informal sector, micro to corporate level. This week we feature more speakers for the upcoming WIN Convention.

Shamima Ali

Shamima is the co-ordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and has been so for the past 38 years.

She is also the chairperson of the Pacific Women’s Network Against Violence Against Women and a founding member of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and NGO Coalition for Human Rights in Fiji.

Ms Ali also served as a Human Rights Commissioner in Fiji from 2004 to 2006.

Much of her work has been in developing and conducting training with the police and other service-providers in Fiji as well as the Pacific.

She has received recognition for her years of service in the Pacific region on behalf of women, which has included the US State Department’s inaugural Women of Courage Award in 2007, the Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand’s inaugural Human Rights Defender Award in 2009, being named a Paul Harris Fellow of the Rotary Foundation in 2009 and Pacific Person of the Year by Islands Business Magazine in 2011 for her work on the elimination of violence against women and human rights.

Ann Steele

Ms Steele has 20 plus years of work experience as a senior human resources executive.

She has a diverse background having worked in numerous sectors including finance, banking and investment, education, travel and tourism, manufacturing, properties and information technology and more recently in telecommunication.

She also has 15 years of work experience outside of traditional HR, having spent some nine years in teaching, learning and development and management of flight crew.

She is currently a governance and strategic HR consultant for PNG state owned enterprises which is an ADB Project role.

She was Digicel PNG’s Director of Human Resources for the Pacific accountable for the HR function in 6 markets, PNG, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu and Nauru.

Ann was the first Pacific national to be appointed as ANZ Pacific’s Head of Human Resources.

She was responsible for delivering relevant HR strategies for the business through the provision of strategic HR consulting services and support on a range of HR activities and programs that supported the business strategy and ensured business success.

Ms Steele serves as a director on a number of organisations among these are the Tavioka Growers Company Ltd, Gaunavou Investments Ltd and their family owned business, MANNAE Co. Ltd.

She is also a board trustee for Jasper Willams Former Students Association and is the chairperson for the Tokani Council.

She is involved in a number of community and social projects with the Fiji Museum and Feed the Kids Project in Lami and also coaches and mentors a number of HR professionals in Fiji and PNG.

Marita Manley

Marita is originally from Wales and is an economist by background.

She describes herself as a reluctant entrepreneur. She started her career with the UK Government and arrived in Fiji in 2006 to work as an environmental economist at SPC, moving on to work for the German Agency of International Cooperation (GIZ) from 2010-2016 on a regional climate change programme.

She thought that she would have a career as a civil servant, but added “I got a bit disillusioned by the bureaucracy and pace of change in the development sector, so when we were approached by friends in the interior to partner with them to set up Talanoa Treks it seemed like a good opportunity to do something more practical!”

Having co-founded Talanoa Treks in 2013 with her husband, she established Talanoa Consulting in 2016 with the aim to create a collective of Pacific consultants that could accelerate the localisation of the development consulting space.

Talanoa Consulting specialises in climate change, disaster risk reduction, agribusiness and food security, natural resource management, small business development and sustainable tourism.

Ms Manley said “We’re a small, dedicated team of 6 and a growing network of contractors around the region, but we punch above our weight and I couldn’t be prouder of the work the team does to support development and to push for change”.

Eleazar O’Connor

Eleazar is a passionate entrepreneur with a broad range of background experience and exposure, which adds value to his unique personality and perspectives regarding business and life.

He is an assistant pastor at his local church – Inner City Tabernacle AOG, but has also worked professionally as a development program manager for seven years at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in various sectors such as health, education, volunteers, scholarships, community development, economic development and governance to name a few.

Prior to this, Mr O’Connor oversaw the conservation of the endemic Fiji Petrel, better known as the Kacau ni Gau.

During his tenure on the Fiji Petrel Project with Nature Fiji as a conservation manager, he was blessed to be the first person in the world to hear, record and document the call of the Fiji Petrel.

He hails from Lagalevu, Nakasaleka, Kadavu with maternal ties to the Kingdom of Tonga and has been prolific in thinking up unique business ideas and investments.

He is the founder of Clean Water Technologies, an SME whose vision is of a Pacific with better health and ultimately improved standards of living through access to clean water and good sanitation practices.

The company exists to provide technological solutions and advice to improve access to potable water and better sanitation for its clients.

He is also the co-founder of Naisevu Organic Farm, and the Bulumakau Bank concept with his business partner Ronetava Ronaivakulua.

The Bulumakau Bank concept is an innovative idea to create an accessible agricultural investment opportunity for modern Fijians who reside in Towns and Cities and who wish to own livestock but do not have the land, resources, time and knowledge to endure the rigorous processes of setting up and running a livestock farm.

In remaining true to his entrepreneurship spirit, he also co-founded a small business development service with his business partner Jesse King, called the Williamson Business Centre aimed at building small businesses by offering them an affordable, professional work environment to enhance their brand, and offer training support and prudent business advice where necessary as well as catalyze synergies between the nurtured businesses.

His journey as an entrepreneur is still being written and it will be exciting to see what else manifests in a few years from now.

All in all, though he is enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and growth, the elements that grounds his life is his Faith in God, his love for his wife Emily Vadiga and son Eden, as well as family and close friends.

The excitement on the 2nd WIN Convention with the theme “Sustainable Solutions for Success” is building up as now 99 per cent of speakers have confirmed.

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