By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 05 NOVEMBER 2020: Virtual market may well be the new trend in the future considering the success and ratings of the Women in Business Development Incorporation (WIBDI) virtual market in the last five months.
Working in partnership with the Sky Eye company and using the MAUA e-commerce platform, the project has brought in $22,000 in cash for farmers after five virtual market open days.
According to Sky Eye General Manager, Fa’asootauloa Sam Saili, the idea for a local virtual market, stemmed from the State of Emergency lockdown which put an end to a monthly open market day for farmers.
“Farmers cannot come to the market, so using the MAUA online app, we created this platform with WIBDI to get all pictures and costs of the farmers products for online sale,” said Fa’aso’otauloa.
He said the online shoppers can view what’s available then buy directly from the farmers. “We supply a list to WIBDI and farmers and once the product is bought, WIBDI pays and picks up the order and hands it over to us for delivery.”
“The response from farmers and customers through online ratings is a good verification for not only the healthy, fresh but quality service delivered by all parties,” said Fa’aso’otauloa.
He hopes to get more people to consume more local products.
The market targets local products and most of the products sold on it are from the rural areas and Savaii.
“We have limu from Savai’i, tugane from Safata and a variety of agricultural and seafood from around Samoa,” he said.
“But the most sought after are local seafood such as faisua, fai’ai fe’e, and fai’ai pusi,” said Faasootauloa.
Last Friday, WIBDI and Sky Eye came together for another virtual market day and the Australian High Commissioner to Samoa, Sarah Moriaty visited the market.
She was happy to see farmers and people getting more accustomed to the use of the e-commerce platform where they can sell their goods in the virtual market during the week.
“Obviously this is the way of the future but also getting Samoa ready for the worst if there was a case of COVID-19,” she said.
Sarah Moriaty is conscious of the impact COVID-19 will have on Samoa’s economic well-being and other countries in the Pacific including Australia. She said this virtual market supports livelihood efforts and COVID-19 response that provides real opportunities particularly for the vulnerable like people with difficult circumstances as well as women and girls.
“So through WIBDI, we help to provide some support to gain access to the market and it’s a clear demonstration that we are also supporting economic development particularly on the people and e-commerce,” she said.
“It’s just fantastic to see that business is really getting off the ground, and this is really important for safety and security for Samoa,” she said.