Although the relationship between economic development and peace is complex and is neither direct nor immediately apparent, the availability of equal economic opportunities can contribute to preventing conflict and sustaining peace.
Along that line, one way to provide equal economic opportunities in the Solomon Islands is to empower citizens on knowledge about small business activities and to ensure the businesses are sustainable.
As part of the UN’s peacebuilding effort in the country, in 2019 United Nation Development Program country office together with International Labour Organization (ILO) developed a project to empower marginalized young Solomon Islanders, particularly young women both to enhance in decision making and as pro-active social entrepreneurship to address the local source of grievances.
The project was also to support the National Youth Policy of the Government of the Solomon Islands that was launched back then.
The project has gone better when World Vision Solomon Islands implemented it.
Since early 2020 a total of 431 youths have been trained on how to generate business ideas and to starting a business. They were 117 in North Malaita, 102 from Shortland Islands, 100 youths from Honiara including the final leg being conducted recently to112 from Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.
The project was a success as youth have felt empowered and most being optimistic to start their businesses in the future.
It also achieved the training goal to equip youths in these areas with knowledge and skills on entrepreneurship and to become agents for peace and social cohesion in their communities.
Financial problems apart from any other burdens in life can disturb inner peace. That is the most dangerous. The project values peace and social cohesion to believe empowering youths on entrepreneurship knowledge will help them protect and enjoy peace.
Philemon Arahusu from Noromau village Weather Coast said the training helped him to understand how to start a business.
“I am happy about the training because I learn about how to manage money, how they making a budget and also about running a business,”
“The main part of the training which I love is how to make a plan for business especially because through planning, you can see the cash flow,” he said.
Mr Arahusu said the knowledge he learnt through the training will help him to run any business in the future.
Meanwhile, a 22-year-old Veronical Keni also from Weather Coast said, the training has given her confidence to start any business in the future.
“What I like about the training is because it taught us how to manage a business, business management is very important to ensure the business is stable, I am now confident that after this training, I can venture into any business,” She said.
Fiona Daniel from Honiara appreciated the training saying, it really gave them guidelines on how to start a business.
“The training has given me motivation and ideas how I can start-up my business especially it trained us the process that would guide us to start a business. I am confident, if I follow the processes taught in the workshop, I won’t go wrong in any small business idea, I would decide to do,” Young Fiona said.
Meanwhile, Mike Eroi also a participant in Honiara described the training that took him to the business world.
“Since I left form six at St. John Community School in 2016, I don’t know what to do, since I am lack business knowledge. This training indeed opened my eyes to the business world especially on how I can generate a business idea and starting a business. I am confident that I can start my own business in the future.” He said.
A number of citizens also keep enquiring about the training to be conducted in their areas.