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Beating the Odds

An initiative of the Rabi Women’s Group, the Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil was opened in 2014 on Rabi Island.

Factory operations manager Terikano Takesau was instrumental in establishing the business as she had foreseen how it was going to directly benefit her people on the island.

Teri, as she prefers to be called, has always maintained close links with her island community. Determined to support the Banaba people, she worked hard since about 2010 to develop the business plan and source start-up funding to begin the Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil.

Starting the company was a difficult journey for Teri drew upon her leadership skills, strong networks and entrepreneurial skills to start a business in remote Rabi.

Her leadership skills had been sharpened through participation in the Vodafone ‘World of Difference’ leadership program, and in 2013 she was nominated to attend a training course on Whole Nut Processing on neighbouring Taveuni Island with the Ministry of Agriculture.

Through the Look North Policy, funding was provided to the company for the factory to be built on the island.

“The Rabi Council also invested $13,000 as seed capital to pay operational expenses. As well as the Australian-based Nature Fiji Pty Ltd that further assisted with $20,000 worth of virgin coconut oil equipment to equip the factory for its initial start-up, coupled with a lucrative agreement to purchase products for three years.”

Now in its fifth year of business, Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil’s sales continue to grow along with its reputation for high quality, sun-dried oil that is primarily exported as a cosmetic ingredient.

The sun-drying process by Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil VCO makes the difference in their oils. Oil is dried for a period of up to two weeks to ensure that the moisture content is almost zero. Low moisture content contributes to increasing the shelf-life of their products and sets it apart from some other virgin coconut oil products.  The time taken to properly dry the oils is never compromised and is a key stage in processing.

 

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