Finding success and growth in their solidarity, entrepreneurs in the Western Division banded together a year ago under the Western Women Entrepreneurs (WWE) group to organise their own monthly markets.
The WWE market is a community event held at Ed’s Bar in Martintar, Nadi on the 1st Saturday of every month.
The group was formed in November of 2022 to organise a Christmas market and is now coming up on its first anniversary.
Group co-ordinator Austine Matarugu shared the group’s humble beginning; a handful of women entrepreneurs sharing their struggles to overcome the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the market journey continued, we invited more businesses and vendors, whether registered or non-registered, around the greater Western area including Sigatoka, Lautoka, Ba and Tavua,” she said.
“We also have some vendors that come from Suva to attend the WWE market.
“WWE is continuing to grow month by month and there are about 80 vendors that have joined our group so far. We are not only focused on womanpreneurs now but also welcome manpreneurs and kidpreneurs who are willing to showcase their products and services and be part of the WWE,” Ms Matarugu said.
Ms Matarugu says the monthly market allows small-scale and aspiring entrepreneurs a platform to showcase their goods, services and talents and seek the attention and support of their communities.
“We wanted to be recognised for our talents and creative ideas and the hard work that we put into our businesses and services, as we do what we are passionate about and love to do,” she said on behalf of the group.
“WWE is not only a marketplace for the local business owner but it’s a place where people can join in to connect, network, grow, collaborate and find inspiration and empowerment with other people,” she added.
With astute business minds and generous souls, the group of small business owners have also made it their mission to give back to the communities they’ve now found support in.
The WWE group has on occasion banded together to collect warm clothing, blankets, shoes, groceries and food for those living on the streets.
“This initiative was done as part of our Father’s Day Market Promotion,” Ms Matarugu said, “letting our vendors know that doing business is not only about serving the customers but it’s also about serving the community, especially those that are in need”.
“The WWE team contributed to show their love and support to street dads, brothers and youths to know that they are also special, cared for and loved,” she added.
The place to go for those who are struggling to make ends meet or kick off their dream business, the WWE group welcomes those in need with open arms.
“One of my aims as a WWE co-ordinator was to reach out to people as I love to help those who need help,” Ms Matarugu said.
“We all know that the cost of living is high and if people are unemployed and wanting an income or working with low income and wanting extra income or maybe are talented but don’t know how to start up with business, then WWE is the place where you can kick start your passion and your talent and create a product or service that people desire.”
The group and its many noble aims have found support in like-minded business owners who have provided both valuable consultative support and the venue and setup for the monthly markets.
“Soleya by Noellie Garand is the backbone of WWE as she really helps WWE members a lot in so many ways; in providing business training, business registration, sponsoring vendors’ banners and of course her continuing endless love and support,” Ms Matarugu said.
“The management and staff of Ed’s Bar are also very much helpful to the WWE market. Ed’s provides the market with their big bure with tables and chairs. So, all the vendors have to do is bring their products and services and showcase it.”
The upcoming December WWE market will be held on Saturday, December 2, at Ed’s Bar in Martintar Nadi from 8am to 5pm.