Poutasi Development Trust happy to be part of Virtual Market

By Hyunsook Siutaia 09 May 2020, 10:00AM

The country's first-ever virtual market will be hosted by the Maua app team in collaboration with Women in Business Development Incorporated. 

Other entities that have come on board to support the initiative include the Nofotane Samoa Victim Support Group (S.V.S.G.) and the Poutasi Development Trust (P.D.T).

The objective of the project is to provide assistance and support to farmers and grassroots communities, to enable them to cushion the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, and create alternative forms of income.

The selection of items available includes mea'ai Samoa, umu, organic produce, spreads and jams, handicrafts, seedlings and even beehives for sale.

The sales would be done on a pre-order basis and customers are required to place their orders which can be then picked up or get delivered the next day.

The transaction is a cashless process, whereby orders will be made and the money will be transferred from the customer's mobile account to the Maua team, which then is transferred to the artisan or farmer. 

No cash will be handled, which makes it a safe alternative for both parties when pre-orders are made. Before the goods are released, it would have already been paid, which makes it convenient for vendors. 

The Maua team's job as agent is to maintain quality control that ensures only high quality products are sold and bought online as well as delivered to customers.

The P.D.T. Chairman Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale and his wife Tammy spoke about their involvement with the initiative and how it will benefit the Trust.

"We’re really excited because we’ve had a lot of struggles trying to get people to come out here to Poutasi. It’s a stepping stone for us into the digital world which we will then roll out onto our website which has been really dormant for a while,” said Mrs Annandale.

“COVID-19 has really had an effect on us so we’ve had to look at other ways of getting our products out there and being part of a platform like this will definitely help us greatly.”

The declaration of the state of emergency (S.O.E.) in March this year had an immediate effect on the organisation, reducing their operational hours to gradually lead to a drop in their income streams, which meant they could not support everyone and had to readjust due to the tough times.

Tuatagaloa added that the onset of the global pandemic compelled the P.D.T. to consider alternative platforms to sell their products, which consequently led them to the Maua app.

"What COVID-19 has done is that it has forced us to get our game up and do what we’re doing right now. If it weren’t for COVID-19 we still would’ve carried on and taken our time to get serious about the app. This app might increase the demand for our products which may lead to a bigger production for possible export. If it doesn’t happen then that’s fine, we’ll grow with the local market," he said. 

Tuatagaloa said getting involved will hopefully open doors to more opportunities as well as  larger audiences and more exposure for people in the villages and communities.

Women currently working for the Trust have also shown excellent leadership qualities and taking responsibility for the different entities within the Trust, he added. 

Some of the entities led by women in the P.D.T. are the Seasonal Workers Program which is overseen by Tavai Tofaeono and Leiloa Pualele, and the Art centre which is run by Loleta Luafalealo.  

According to Mr Tofaeono, the Trust offers opportunities for youth, specifically women with no jobs. They can learn a lot from being involved in the PDT with the numerous activities they do which can help them provide financially for their families.

By Hyunsook Siutaia 09 May 2020, 10:00AM

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