Nadi – Essence of Fiji, a company specialising in producing locally-made spa and beauty care products for the tourism sector, received a boost this morning with the visit of the Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey, at their Rejuvenation Centre in Nadi.
Ms Twomey’s visit coincides with the signing of a second partnership with the Australian-funded Market Development Facility (MDF), who are partnering with Essence of Fiji to develop a premier skin-care range, ‘Nama of Fiji’ made from nama, a local edible seaweed otherwise known as sea-grapes.
MDF is working with Essence of Fiji to develop a sustainable sourcing model for procuring nama from women collectors in the Yasawa Islands and Ra. MDF is also assisting in developing a line of skincare and beauty products using nama, as well as helping the company develop a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy to better market their spa and skincare range to a wider international market and local tourism markets.
Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Margaret Twomey, in her opening remarks, said she was hopeful that the partnership with Essence of Fiji would see more rural women and their families improve their income opportunities and achieve more sustainable livelihoods.
“I am particularly pleased that the development of the Nama of Fiji product has strong pro-poor benefits, particularly for rural women in the Western division who would be the main harvesters and suppliers of nama to Essence of Fiji for its beauty product line,” she said.
Commenting on the partnership, Mujaddid Mohsin, MDF Fiji Country Representative said, “A key focus of MDF’s work in the tourism sector is to increase the value of Fiji’s locally-made tourism products and improving their visibility to tourists.
This partnership has the potential to create a sustainable and alternative source of income for women in coastal communities in the Yasawa islands and Ra province who will now have direct market access to sell their nama.”
MDF has previously supported Essence of Fiji to upgrade its production and training facility, improve the quality of locally sourced raw materials by providing trainings to its suppliers and expanding its marketing and promotion efforts.
This is part of the Australian Government’s support to create sustainable livelihoods, boost growth and create jobs through partnerships with local business across Fiji’s tourism, horticulture and export processing sectors.
Essence of Fiji Managing Director Debra Sadranu said, “We value our partnership with MDF who have enabled us to further develop our products and manufacturing capacity for both, local and export markets.
Through manufacturing our Nama Skin Care, our partnership engagement has impacted the livelihoods of women who are harvesters and collectors of our Nama raw material. As part of our company’s social responsibilities we pride ourselves in changing women’s lives in Fiji.”
The development of the ‘Nama of Fiji’ products builds on from Essence of Fiji’s affiliation with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research’s (ACIAR) research by James Cook University (JCU) and the University of the South Pacific (USP) on seaweed in Fiji. This research has uncovered the potential use of nama as a natural “hydration” substitute for hyaluronic acid which is typically used for beauty products and has to be made in a laboratory.