Tuesday, July 21, 2009

FRIEND's in Fiji

The Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise N Development or FRIEND is a NGO from Fiji that we were introduced this morning. FRIEND sells homemade jams pickles and crafts made by those in poverty to help them climb out of it.

From this profile in the Fiji Times, we learn more about organization that started in 2001.

The aim was to link the use of natural resources and skills to alleviate poverty.

The vision was to create a base where communities with no outreach opportunities could come together within different programs such as income generation, a saving scheme and educational workshops to create an environment of self reliant people.

Ms Kiran moved to Lautoka to start the organisation although this was challenging.

She said initially not many people were willing to come on board but now there are many strong partnerships. Three volunteers started working with her seven years ago, two of whom are still with FRIEND as full-time staff.

"Although we were complemented for being a breakthrough NGO, we've also been accused of being a social enterprise and business oriented but we have shown we're here to stay," Ms Kiran said. "It's not a simple task marrying the natural resources and skills it is also about community building."

Apart from food products, art and hand-crafted cards available in up market outlets around Fiji, FRIEND's products include recycled paper frames, paintings and stone paper weights.

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