Pageant in Savai’i means good business for residents

By Melaia Seve N.U.S. ,

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Miss Samoa Alexandra Iakopo.

Miss Samoa Alexandra Iakopo. (Photo: Misiona Simo)

The new location for the Miss Samoa Pageant 2018 has sparked hope for the people of Savai’i.

Meet Eni To’o, a business woman from the villages of Sapapali’i and Samata, who said that this is a great platform to market her products as well as profiling other businesses on the big island.

To’o is certain that such event inspires business people like herself to be more creative and also to build local talents with the materials they make.

“Having the Miss Samoa to be hosted here in Savaii, it is a bonus for our people. It is a good exposure for business people like me to be able to earn more than what we usually make on the daily basis.

“It is very rare for businesses, in Savai’i, to earn much income for the reason that there are barely any customers. The only time which will be very busy for us is during special occasions such as white Sunday. Most of the people live far away from Salelologa and it is only during those events they will come here.

“I sew clothing for a living and make handicrafts on the other hand. It is something that I love to do as a business woman.”

Most importantly for her, the Miss Samoa will make a difference to the livelihoods of the people of Savaii to be able to provide for their families.

“All of the money that we make is distributed to the welfare of our children, the commitment we have to the village, church and what is left will be spent on buying what we need for the business.

“Most of the people here rely on the plantation, homemade goods such as cocoa and handicrafts that they make to earn a living. Searching for job opportunities in Savaii is difficult and it is the reason most people migrate to Upolu.

“Having the pageant held here will be noticed by most business people and want to expand here or so, we would never know,” To’o said.

For seven years she has worked to develop her block at the market but this has been the very first big event to happen and she is excited to be a part of it.

“On second thought it also helps me build contacts in the sense that people will be aware of what I sell and to be able to export things to Upolu. This is not only going to benefit my business but also other consumers that are based in Savaii, it is a way to develop and expand what we have established.

“In my opinion it will be good if we are going to be able to set up our stalls somewhere close to the venue market our goods and to attract as many buyers. Savaii is slow in terms of having our goods being sold. In a day when there are buyers we would make $300 but on special occasions the income which we receive is around $2,000.

“I worked for a sewing business in Apia and then returned to Savaii in 2013. It was the year when everything began for me. Humble beginnings and it was not easy.”

She adds the Miss Samoa will be an eye opener for not only the people of Savaii but also those who will be visiting their homeland.

“There is a cliché that is often used which that goes what’s good for Upolu is good for Savaii but that has not been the case for us in the past years. To have the Miss Samoa here it makes that saying true.

“Everything that I sell here portrays our culture and the people of Samoa through the patterns of the clothing that I have made, the handicrafts that have been carved and painted. I could even make tablemats and mats.

“This allows people to get a clear understanding of us as Samoans and also witness many of the historical sites in Savaii.”

Mrs To’o mentioned some of the challenges that some of the people in Savaii undergo due to the lack of advertisement.

“We are hearing people say that the Miss Samoa will be held here and it is time for us to start preparing more clothing and handicrafts for I know there will be more buyers and people coming here to our island.

“I don’t have a television which is the reason we are behind with everything that is happening in Apia. I am aware that the Miss Samoa is held here but with what will be happening over the time that they will be here I am not so sure.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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