Vanuatu Holds Micro Finance Trade Fair In Port Vila

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Primarily ni-Vanuatu owned businesses to set up 50 stalls

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, August 12, 2014) – The final program for the three-day Vanuatu Micro Finance Trade Fair to be staged this week – from Thursday through Saturday, August 14-16, at the Seafront Park in Port Vila, has been completed and approved by the Organizing Committee of this now growing annual event.

This has been confirmed by the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Micro Finance Trade Fair, John Aruhuri.

The theme of the trade fair is the same as the 2013 event "Empowering Small and Micro Enterprise Development".

Aruhuri says participants from outside of Port Vila and Efate will begin arriving in the capitol this week ahead of the opening of the micro finance trade fair on Thursday morning.

As in the past, this week’s official opening ceremony at the Seafront Park will begin with a float parade starting at the Chantilly’s On the Bay and the Moorings Hotel at 10 a.m. to be led by the Vanuatu Mobile Force brass band. The march will again this year feature colorfully-decorated floats by different micro finance groups and businesses, many of whom will participate in the trade fair.

The Lord Mayor of Port Vila, Ulrich Sumptor has been invited to participate in the opening ceremony, and because the Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, will be away during this time, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Commerce, Industries, and Tourism, Ham Lini, will officially open the trade fair.

The program for the official opening ceremony includes judging of floats participating in the parade, a reception, and custom dance entertainment for invited guests.

Aruhuri says the 50 stalls for the trade fair will be erected on Wednesday.

"The main focus of the micro finance trade fair is on the ni-Vanuatu involved in business and will feature success stories and those in the micro finance service industry such as the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV), Vanwods (Vanuatu women’s microfinance scheme), and the Department of Industries," Chairman John Aruhuri explained.

Tourism development under the Tourism Ambassador Program is a new feature. Mothers and women involved in vendors business for tourists will be participating to enable them to make contacts with local producers. This is so the women can move away from the current dependence on sale of imported goods to more locally-made products, says the chairman.

"It is a whole package. The micro finance trade fair will bring together businesses with success stories from around the country, providers of credit such as NBV, Vanwods, Vanuatu Financial Services Commission, Cooperative Department, the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu, and Government Services such as the Departments of Industries, Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, and Fisheries to provide information," Aruhuri continued.

He said participants will include Tamanu Products, Vanuatu Pottery – who will display finished products and demonstrate pottery-making, Bela Trading – producers of virgin coconut oil, Bruno Sam – who will promote island kakae (food) in what he calls "Festival of Local Kakae", Tahos Timber – timber and furniture products, Fibreglass Vanuatu – makers of fiberglass boats and water tanks, Van Global – suppliers of Sola units, CNS – the IT and computer products dealers Vanuatu Network Services, and North Efate Timber – timber and furniture products.

The tourism section will host six stalls. There will be one stall to demonstrate natangura (sago palm) seed carving, two doing clothing and screen painting, one on home decoration, one to showing cane furniture, and one on sculpture carving, all of which will allow mothers and women to talk with local suppliers, says the Chairman.

One of the main sponsors of the event, NBV will have six stalls to showcase success stories from around the country that have come up in business using the bank’s financial literacy program.

The Forestry Department will demonstrate the use of a new easy-to-use portable saw mill using chain saws, which will be of great benefit to small millers throughout the islands.

For entertainment, Aruhuri says the focus will be on making entertainment a business, and it will feature 12 steel bands, 11 string bands, and 11 custom dances – two each from Tanna and Pentecost and one each from Ambrym, Futuna, North Efate, Vanualava, Ambae, Tonga, and a group of children from different islands.

"Since Friday is a public holiday in the country, it is anticipated that school children in Port Vila and Efate will use the time to be part of the event," Aruhuri adds saying that this year prizes will be given at the end of each day instead of at the end of the trade fair.

On the final day, the program includes "swim for the pig" races at the sea front, which has been very popular in the past, and canoe races which this year will feature canoes from Erakor, Mele and Ifira.

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