Businesswoman wins U.N. Environment award

By Ivamere Nataro ,

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CONGRATULATIONS: Angelica Salele-Sefo.

CONGRATULATIONS: Angelica Salele-Sefo.

A local businesswoman has been awarded US$10,000 (T$25,000) supporting grant from the U.N. Environment.    

Angelica Salele-Sefo is the winner of the Asia Pacific Low Carbon Lifestyles Challenge in the Plastic Waste category.

The Asia-Pacific Low-Carbon Lifestyles Challenge aims to mobilise and support young people with business ideas on how to foster energy-efficient, low-waste and low-carbon lifestyles.

Twelve winners each receive US$10,000 to support their business venture focusing on one of three different categories: mobility, plastic waste and energy.

As the winner, Mrs. Salele-Sefo also receives business and marketing training from global experts, and pitch to win an additional US$10,000 prize to bolster her business.

U.N. Environment’s Director for the Asia-Pacific region, Dechen Tsering, said: “Plastic waste is a blight on our planet and few know this better than those living in Pacific Island nations. 

 “We are hunting for solutions to this problem, and Angelica’s innovation is an example of the type of ingenuity that helps move us forward. 

 “It’s fantastic to see that her venture also supports women and girls, who are too often marginalised despite their central role in protecting our planet.”  

Disposable feminine sanitary pads contribute to household waste across the globe. 

Mrs. Salele-Sefo’s business involves producing reusable feminine hygiene products. She produces and sells reusable sanitary pads that are durable and made of natural fibers. 

They offer women and girls an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to single use, disposable sanitary pads made of toxic plastic materials. 

Mrs. Salele-Sefo’s is also able to provide employment to a team of women seamstresses who manufacture the product.

But in Pacific Island countries and territories, isolated by the Pacific Ocean, solid waste management is an even bigger challenge. 

Additionally, there are few alternatives available for women and girls that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

She said: “Growing up in Samoa, I learned early on about the negative impacts of human activities on our islands and our backyard, the Pacific Ocean. 

“When I first learned about the use of reusable sanitary pads in assisting rural girls and women living in poverty, the environmentally friendly aspect stuck with me and I questioned why I ever used disposable pads and tampons. 

“But the answer was simple: in Samoa and the Pacific, there are no alternatives. As a result, this project has been something I've wanted to do for a long time, but never had the money to do before now. UN Environment’s support is vital to get this effort off the ground.”

About Angelica Salele

Mrs. Salele-Sefo is a Samoan national and works for the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (S.P.R.E.P.). 

Her background is in Political Science and Criminology, but she has always had an interest in protecting the environment, as well as how humans assist or hinder conservation efforts and why. 

As a mother, she is highly committed to protecting our environment for her children and ensuring they have a safe and secure future.

This initiative is funded by the Ministry of Environment Japan, as part of S.W.I.T.C.H.-Asia’s Regional Sustainable Consumption and Production Policy Advocacy Component, the Asia-Pacific Regional Roadmap on Sustainable Consumption and Production and One Planet.  

It is carried out together with the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, The Thai National Science and Technology Development Agency and Sasin Entrepreneurship Center.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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