Three women from Mauke, three from Atiu and two from Manihiki were part of a delegation that travelled to Samoa to learn more about producing cold press virgin coconut oil.
The workshop was organised and paid through a programme under Climate Change with funding by UNDP from the Adaptation Fund.
The training workshop was conducted by Women in Business Development Incorporated (WIBDI) who have been in the cold press virgin coconut oil business for 18 years.
Their business training and accreditation programme has enabled farmers in Samoa to gain organic certification to international standards, certifying them as suppliers of virgin coconut oil to famous beauty product company ‘The Body Shop International’.
The Women in Business also work with similar organisations around the region sharing their experiences and hope to develop a network market of similar products as a support mechanism for women in the region interested in pursuing such business ventures.
While in Samoa the team of eight received training in business management and how to set up a business, construction and operation of a processing site and how to commercially market their products.
They also checked out operational sites in Samoa and organic sites in Savaii, the type of materials used in the construction of the processing site with measurements so they are able to determine the ideal replica for their specific situation on each of their islands.
“The workshop opened new avenues and concepts of processing coconut oil, but the team’s aim is to improve on what they have learned from the Samoa experience,” said team leader Josephine Ivirangi.
Upon returning to their respective islands, the team will be working with the island councils in order to get the project off the ground.
The islands of Mauke, Manihiki and Atiu under the SRIC CC Programme identified coconut oil as a viable opportunity to build on, expand and leverage on existing skills and knowledge of women on these islands.
From this training, the women will be able to commercialise their products and with accreditation will be able to join in the list of suppliers of virgin coconut oil to the global market.