Leota Laki Lamositele, Samoan Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, stands at podium to give speech

Export leadership workshop boosts Pacific women’s businesses

27 February 2024
ITC News

The Pacific Women in Export Leadership Workshop was crafted to empower women business leaders to drive exports in the highly competitive markets of the United Kingdom and Europe.

When Priscilla Betham started helping her parents with their coffee business in Samoa just before the COVID-19 pandemic, she believed that exporting their product was simply not an option.

‘Coming from a small island, you don’t know about what is out there in the big world and what the expectation is,’ Priscilla said.

Thanks to the Pacific Women in Export Leadership Workshop, Priscilla has a newfound sense of confidence about her family’s coffee on the international market. She now envisions a bright future for Aleisa Coffee.

Thirty-five remarkable women from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu attended the workshop in Apia from 22 to 24 January. These women lead small and medium-sized enterprises in beauty, fashion, and food and agriculture. They were eager to participate in enriching mentoring, peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.

Reflecting on the transformative experience, Musarat Ali of Investment Fiji said, ‘The workshop was a great amalgamation of some of the most inspiring Pacific businesses.’ She added that the level of mentorship and collaboration was unlike anything she had seen before.

Throughout the workshop, the women explored innovative ideas in a supportive environment, equipping themselves to tackle the formidable challenges of international trade.

The event was inaugurated by Leota Laki Lamositele, Samoan Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, and British High Commissioner to Samoa, Gareth Hoar. Both emphasised the pivotal role of women-led businesses in driving economic prosperity and fostering sustainable development in the Pacific.

Drawing inspiration from notable success stories like Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai, CEO of Samoa Stationery & Books (SSAB), and Debra Sadranu, Founder & Managing Director of Essence Fiji Group, the participants left the workshop feeling encouraged to propel their enterprises onto the world stage. 

Guided by expert facilitators, the women delved into crucial aspects of exporting, ranging from financial intricacies to brand optimisation and retail strategies.

Maria Leota, owner of esteemed beauty brand Kuki and President of Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters, said that the workshop left her feeling ‘incredibly inspired and confident.’ She reports that, in the month since the workshop, she has already seen an increase in sales thanks to the marketing strategies that she learned.

As the workshop concluded, there was a resounding sense of determination. Maria encapsulated the collective sentiment: 

‘I believe that there is immense power when a group of women with similar interests gets together to work towards a common goal. Thank you, UK Aid and ITC, for connecting and developing women entrepreneurship across the Pacific.’

This initiative was spearheaded by UKTP in collaboration with Samoa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour, the British High Commission to Samoa, Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters, and global business experts.


About the United Kingdom Trade Partnerships Programme

The UK Trade Partnerships Programme, funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, aims to increase trade from developing countries to the United Kingdom (UK) and the European Union (EU) by maximizing the benefits of UK and EU Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and the UK's Developing Countries Trading Scheme (DCTS). The UKTP Programme works in partnership with government agencies, private sector organisations, public sector institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises and other local stakeholders.

Large group of people pose for photo in front of red backdrop
22 January 2024, Apia, Samoa. Participants at the Pacific Women in Export Leadership Workshop.
Photo : ITC