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Nurturing Food Security andEntrepreneurial Growth

Written by: Emma Hivo – Communications Specialist at V-Lab,

The GROW program has been making remarkable strides in its mission to bolster food security and invigorate the local economy. Through its focus on capacity training and personalized business coaching, the program has been fostering substantial changes in the lives of its participants. As we approach the halfway mark of the 6-month incubation period, it is evident that the program is not only nurturing business development but also cultivating personal growth among the entrepreneurs involved.

Figure 1: GROW Participants after their training at DARD

The recent onsite assessments conducted by the V-LAB team have unveiled encouraging progress.
Participants are actively applying the knowledge and tools garnered from the program to their businesses. From effective business planning to adopting advanced farming techniques and honing budgeting skills, the participants are embracing a holistic approach to entrepreneurship. Notably, those
engaged in agriculture are witnessing the transformative potential of their ventures, envisioning a shift from subsistence farming to more expansive agricultural pursuits.

Figure 2: Onsite Monitoring & assessment with the Incubees.

The GROW program, still in its pilot phase, has demonstrated an impressive impact on the incubated businesses. Our tailored content delivery and userfriendly approach have contributed to an atmosphere conducive to learning and growth. Moreover, our willingness to adapt the program to accommodate the diverse needs of our participants, particularly mothers who are the primary caretakers at home, has fostered a supportive and inclusive environment.

One significant milestone has been the establishment of a strong rapport with the Department of Agriculture. This partnership has paved the way for access to vital resources such as cuttings and government subsidies, offering a potential pathway for the incubees to secure further support postprogram completion. The integration of the incubees into the department’s network could significantly amplify their visibility and market opportunities.

Figure 3: Field Trip to the DARD
Figure 4: GROW Participants benefiting from Agriculture Subsidies.

While the program’s impact on the local communities is yet to be comprehensively evaluated, preliminary assessments suggest a ripple effect extending beyond the participants themselves. The transformation in
their mindsets and the assimilation of newfound skills have translated into tangible benefits for their families. However, ensuring consistent attendance remains a challenge, given the familial responsibilities shouldered by the participants. In response, we have adopted a flexible approach, accommodating the participants’ familial obligations while maintaining the program’s integrity.

Looking ahead, the future trajectory of the GROW program envisions an expansion into other communities, with plans for a second cohort in North Efate slated for March next year. Furthermore, key lessons gleaned from the current implementation, including the necessity of considering family circumstances during participant selection and the provision of child-friendly spaces, will inform the program’s evolution. Building more partnerships with relevant departments, such as thedepartment of industry and the Bureau of Standards, is also on the agenda, aimed at broadening the horizons for the program’s participants involved in processing and manufacturing.

The GROW program remains committed to nurturing not just businesses but also the communities they serve. With a dedicated focus on sustainability and adaptability, it endeavors to pave
the way for a resilient and empowered local economy, fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship and growth that reverberates far beyond the confines of the program itself.

Figure 5: Field Trip to Tanna Coffee
Figure 6: Hands on practical exercises at DARD & pictures from one of our incubees backyard gardening.

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