In the quiet village of Vunaspef on the island of Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, Elvina Andicar is making a significant impact to the lives of women in her local communities.

She is not just a member of the community; she is the driving force behind its economic empowerment and development. 

Andicar wears many hats: she's a customary landowner of the Millennium Cave, a popular tourist spot for those visiting Espiritu Santo. She is also a member of the Northern Islands Market Vendors Association (NIMVA), and currently holds the position of Vice Treasurer, a role she came to play this year.

She is part of the committee that looks after the affairs of the market vendors of the Nambauk area and she coordinates training sessions held within local communities, ensuring arrangements are made for sourcing venues, catering and participants.

Her journey to success wasn't always smooth. In 2016, her husband passed away, and she was left with the burden of looking after her three children that were all in primary school, as well as her sister’s two children who were in high school. Given her situation, she had to be resilient and tried her best to use whatever resources she had to plant vegetables and crops to sell at the Luganville Market.

“It was hard for me but I know women are capable of anything if we put our mind to it,” she said. Looking back now, she does not regret the challenges and hardships she went through, with these making her stronger and wiser following the tough decisions and choices made regarding her family.

Andicar also participated in the value addition training offered through the Markets for Change (M4C) project. The training enabled her and a group of women to gather as a group and produce items to be sold at the Luganville Market across the local community.

Through this training with the M4C project, she has expanded her network and knowledge, and continues to support rural women in her community to participate in further training that will boost their confidence and business.

Prior to the M4C Project support, Andicar had no experience in running a business or even making use of the wastage from the market produce. She didn't save money, nor did she have a bank account or any form of record keeping.

Andicar did not have any other income stream or side business to help her during rainy days. She depended only on farm produce and the selling of her goods at Luganville Market, sometimes helping out on the tourism business that is managed by her extended family.

The M4C project contributed towards her self-development and saw a significant number of barriers removed in terms of her gaining confidence in making a successful business out of what she was doing.

She expressed her gratitude, saying, "I'd like to thank UNDP for allowing me to participate in most trainings, including the recent Market Business Fair, as I am able to collect information that I can share with other women who were unable to attend."

The Market Business Fair encouraged vendors to connect with experts and resources, ask questions, and network with other vendors. Andicar played a crucial role by interpreting the sessions into the local dialect and encouraging the women to attend organized trainings on business management, marketing, and customer service to develop their market businesses. She ensured that all the women could benefit from these valuable learnings.

In line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the M4C project directly contributes to multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It supports SDG 5 on Gender Equality, SDG 8 on Decent Work and Economic Growth, SDG 10 on Reducing Inequalities, and SDG 11 on Sustainable Cities and Communities. M4C is a flagship project that aims to ensure equality and economic empowerment for all, including men, women, youth, people with disabilities, and marginalized minority groups.

The M4C project is implemented by UN Women in partnership with UNDP and with support from the governments of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Together, they are making a real difference in the lives of women like Elvina Andicar, an inspiration to women in her community and beyond; a shining example of what can be achieved through hard work, determination, and access to the right resources.


Source: Press Release, M4C project, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji