BY JARED KOLI
Yesterday marked a milestone for 18 Solomon Islanders as they are further equipped with skills and knowledge to operate seafood business after gaining a Micro-Qualification in Establishing and Operating a Small Seafood Business.
This was made possible through a scholarship awarded by the University of the South Pacific (USP) as part of the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (PEUMP) Programme funded by the European Union and the Government of Sweden.
The graduates yesterday are third cohort of the micro-qualification in the country which was delivered in partnership with the USP-Pacific Technical and Further Education (TAFE). This was in response to the multi-faceted challenges in the Pacific region brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is the third cohort of this qualification and the first to be delivered outside of USP’s main campus in Suva, Fiji.
The two-week face-to-face micro-qualification is designed to assist Pacific entrepreneurs with establishing and successfully operating a seafood business. It focused on the fundamentals of establishing and operating a small seafood business; business models and plans; marketing strategies; basic accounting; records and operational management; legislative requirements for business establishment; and ongoing compliance.
Witnessing the event yesterday were Ambassador of the European Union for the Pacific H.E Sujiro Seam who witnessed the ocasion via virtual link from Suva, Fiji and USP Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Giulio Paunga who gave his keynote address virtually from USP Laucala campus. Certificates were conferred by USP Solomon Islands country director Dr Billy Fito’o.
H.E Seam said, “In line with the European Green Deal, the Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership continues to deliver on sustainable management of marine resources and capacity building in the region. The micro-qualification in establishing and operating a small seafood business awarded today by the University of the South Pacific allows 18 Pacific Islanders to be more resilient and better equipped to face the challenges of the region, especially the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or climate change.”
Acting Vice Chancellor Dr Giulio while congratulating the graduands said the important element of this micro-qualification is the opportunity to give small seafood businesses operators especially in the Pacific Island States, a fighting chance to survive during this era of COVID-19.
“We are large ocean states but with loss of employment prevalent in our region, the risk of COVID-19 infections amongst other socio-economic factors, the USP PEUMP Programme has taken this challenge and turned it into an opportunity to ensure that small scale operators are not marginalised but can instead thrive.
“Together in partnership with our donor partners we the University of the South Pacific have made a commitment to build capacitythrough education, training and research and development for key stakeholder groups in fisheries and marine resources management,” Dr Giulio said.
He said with its mission and the current challenge presented by the global pandemic, COVID-19, the USP is more determined to provide communities and countries in the Pacific –ACP bloc through this Programme the relevant, cost-effective and sustainable solutions, including entrepreneurship opportunities to rise above challenges
USP Solomon Islands country director Dr Billy Fito’o in his remarks thanked the European Union and Swedish Government for funding the USP PEUMP Programme, and also USP PEUMP Programme team for support in bringing the micro-qualification to Solomon Islands.
He also acknowledged USP Pacific TAFE and its staff both in Fiji and Solomon Islands for facilitating and delivering the programme in the country.