New challenges flipping roles in families and small business

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Women Selling Their products at the Honiara Main Market.
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By Jeniffer Kusapa

Twenty-year-old Anna used to be relaxed and waiting on her parents to put food on the table. Now she is struggling to support her parents on a day-to-day routine for survival.

Anna has grown up fast and says COVID-19 has taught her family a great lesson about the value of culture.

Out of a family of six children, only their mother is employed and even that is not regular.

Like so many others, her father lost his job due to COVID-19 as the company that he worked for was forced to make staff redundant. 

Since her father lost his employment, Anna and other members of the family had to find new ways to earn some money for their survival.

“So, we engaged ourselves to do small markets like selling of betel-nuts and coconuts along the road,” Anna explained

“I have been selling betel-nut since the beginning of 2021 given our situation; this is in order to support our mother who is still working.

“This year things have got worse.

“Come 2022, when the COVID out-break and the lockdowns, it has affected us.

“Our mother never goes to work and also our market was affected.

“With the COVID restrictions in place by the government, nobody buys from our markets, as those who usually buys our goods no longer come around to buy from us.”

Anna has gained a new appreciation for the value of our culture our wantok system culture, as relatives reached out to provide her family with some food.

“Culture and wantok system are something that we Solomon Islanders are lucky of,” she said.

“Our wantoks sometimes are there to support us, but in terms of money we have to struggle to earn a dollar a day.”  

The hard times Anna is experiencing are reflected in the economic statistics.

Last year, before the November riots and the COVID-19 outbreak early this year, the Ministry of Finance had expected the economy to grow slightly – by around 1% in 2022.

In his budget speech last month Finance and Treasury Minister Harry Kuma revealed that, in fact, the economy contracted by 0.2% in 2021

The prospects for 2022 are worse, with a further 4.5% contraction in economic growth.

If that trend continues Anna thinks more people with small businesses will be affected.

She believes the government should consider some subsidies to assist and support people in their business, so small businesses are able to survive the challenging situation ahead.


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