NUKU’ALOFA, Saturday 13th November 2021: Mafoa ‘a e Ata’s Participants Meet and Greet Brunch
What an event!
A room full of bold, passionate & innovative minds!
While streaming through our Mafoa ‘a e Ata journey, it is with great pleasure to say that our participants have finally met each other physically. Our meet and greet brunch has gathered together youths that are full of braveness, discovery minds and values. As we gathered our Mafoa ‘a e Ata participants’ in one room, humour becomes present and for this, our event was as bright, successful and most importantly, youthful.
Participants arrived earliest at 9.30 am, they were greeted by our TYEE family, followed by a photo session, and were placed for seating. As everyone gathered, we awaited our two guest speakers, which we are thankful for, Mrs. ‘Ioana Sugar (Owner, South Seas Trading, Tonga Ltd) & Ms Cassandra Lupe’eva Moala-Mafi (Managing Director/Youth Entrepreneur, Prestige).
Opening prayer and welcoming remarks were conducted by the TYEE Director (Mrs Lusia Latu-Jones) and followed by our Mafoa ‘a e Ata participants’ short individual introduction.
Ms Cassandra Lupe’eva Moala-Mafi (29) took off as our first guest speaker for the day. She delivered herself with an introduction and spoke on why, how, when and where her business took place. Ms Cassandra is currently running her own marketing and promotion business named 'Prestige' and is going on 10 years of operation. Ms Cassandra stated that her entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 19 and was indeed refreshing to hear upon her story. Ms Cassandra’s story touched youths with the message of having to stay motivated and knowing that no matter what age they are in, the day they choose to become an entrepreneur is the day they will have to accept and adapt to the change that comes with it.
As Ms Cassandra shared more upon herself, she highlighted the importance of having a positive mindset and how to stay innovative. She stated that having a positive mindset can go a long way, it does not matter what you do but if you stay positive, everything will fall into place. Also, to finish off her presentation she elaborated more upon innovation, she stated that “innovation comes from innovative thinking, and if you are ready to be different, you have to be prepared for change”.
On the other hand, Mrs. ‘Ioana Sugar (52), our second guest speaker, began her presentation with a short emotional introduction of herself upon who she is, what she does for a living and how it is today. Mrs Sugar elaborated upon her entrepreneurial journey which started 28 years ago (1993) alongside her husband. They took the risk of leaving their day-to-day jobs and opened a small brewery and liquor store that brews and sells alcohol, both retail and wholesale across Tonga. She highlighted the struggles of having a business start-up upon the first 5 years of operation but with the right mindset, consistency and supporting partner, everything will take shape.
Furthermore, Mrs Sugar highlighted the importance of fighting for what you want. She stated that if you have a goal for yourself, you have to be willing to believe in yourself, tackle obstacles along the way and fight for it. Going on with Mrs Sugar's speech, she indicated that sacrificing and moving towards committing to your work is also very vital for a successful business,"…youths nowadays have to be aware of this", she said. She also added on how crucial it is for an entrepreneur to be aware of the people he/she is surrounded with. Speaking of her experience over the years as a business person, she stated that a person must have a supportive surrounding. "Your friends and family should be your first customers, not your first debtor", she stated.
Nevertheless, taking care of employees can go a long way, Mrs Sugar directed. "Make sure to take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers, make them happy and they will make you and your customers happy” she expressed. Everyone in the room nodded their heads as they agreed.
She concluded her speech upon the great value of having a supportive partner. She specified that it is very important for a business person to have a supportive partner that has the same business mindset as you and who will be a backbone upon what you do. She indicated that she and her husband have been operating their business for a long period because they both love and value what they worked hard for.
After the presentations of guest speakers took place, participants Q & A discussions with guest speakers led on. Questions were asked from our Mafoa ‘a e Ata participants and were discussed with guest speakers, such as what are the challenges they face nowadays and how they dealt with them, also what they look for in employees when hiring, etc.
Both guest speakers gave a slice of their expertise and experience to answer each question given. They highlighted the biggest challenge both their businesses is facing today and that is the effect of the global pandemic. Ms Cassandra sounded that her business used to focus on international tourists as her target market but with the borders closed, she had no choice but to reconstruct her business and set the local tourists as her target market. “This is another way of me being innovative", Ms Cassandra stated as an example of being innovative upon her action towards reconstructing her business due to the pandemic. As for Mrs Sugar, on the other hand, she explained how the Covid-19 pandemic took 40% of her sales on her business, but with hard work and commitment, her business is managing through this difficult time.
Moving on, both guest speakers highlighted the importance of hiring a person that is honest, has a good heart, has genuine intentions and has good morals. “These are qualities that cannot be taught and if I was to hire someone, these are the things that I will look for in a person", Ms Cassandra voiced. Working with employees that have these qualities will help avoid problems in the future for any workplace and it also enables self-improvement for that person, both guest speakers highlighted.
To end the day, Sebastian Sila, Tyee’s program assistant, delivered a word of thanks towards the participants, guest speakers and sponsors and followed by saying grace to end our successful event. Mafoa ‘a e Ata participants and guest speakers were then given time to have brunch and refreshments. This was a crucial part of the event so that participants’ can interact with one another and also exchange information with guest speakers and other participants. Our Meet & Greet Brunch ended with a room full of humility, boldness, humorous youths, and interaction of innovative entrepreneurial minds.
About Mafoa A e Ata Youth Innovation Challenge Program
The Mafoa ‘A e Ata – Youth Innovation Challenge Program is proudly brought to you by Tonga Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship Inc. (TYEE) in joint implementation and collaboration with our Partners - Breadfruit Consulting Port Villa, Vanuatu, Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)’s Pacific Green Entrepreneurship Network (PGEN) and supported by Solutions Consulting House in Nuku’alofa.
On 13th October 2021 marked a unique joint implementation of the Global Green Growth Institute’s (GGGI) Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN) Program with their local partner on the ground, Tonga Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship (TYEE). The MoU was signed virtually by Dr. Frank Rijsberman, Director-General of GGGI and Lusia Latu-Jones, President/Director of TYEE. Read more here. Read more here.
This was followed by the Participants’ Orientation Day on 28th October 2021 which was a combined session held virtually and in-person onsite at TYEE. Read more here.
The official kickstart of the Mafoa A e Ata Program in Tonga was held virtually on 2nd November 2021, and during the recent COVID-19 Lockdown on the main island of Tongatapu. Official Partners' Representatives attended the virtual event - Chris Elphick from Breadfruit Consulting, Esther Bates (GGGI's Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network Project Manager), and William Rolston (GGGI's Senior Officer for the Tonga Program), and Mrs. Sela Bloomfield from Solutions Consulting House, the Participants/Entrepreneurs of the Mafoa A e Ata Program, and the support staff of the Program from TYEE. This was also an opportunity for the Participants to introduce themselves, Partners, and support staff from TYEE.
About Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI):
Based in Seoul, GGGI is an intergovernmental organization that supports governments of developing countries to transition to a model of economic growth that is environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive. GGGI delivers programs in over 40 partner countries with technical support, capacity building, policy planning & implementation, and by helping to build a pipeline of bankable green investment projects. More on GGGI’s events, projects, and publications can be found on www.gggi.org. You can also follow GGGI on Twitter and join us on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
The regional Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN) is a 3-year project funded by the Qatar Fund for Development and implemented by the Global Green Growth Institute in collaboration with in-country partners including Tonga Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship. The Network aims to support green and inclusive job growth by supporting entrepreneurs (particularly women and youth) develop their green and sustainable businesses whose business models include solutions aimed at contributing to their country’s climate and sustainable development goals in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. For more information, please visit the Pacific Greenpreneurs website.