Meet Marlon Siru, 24, from Malaita province, one of the young entrepreneurs who was empowered through the intervention of World Vision's YSED plus program (Youth Social Entrepreneur Development) in his community.
Most youth living in communities in the Solomon Islands have a lot of leisure time. Most youths have observed and shared their experiences of the growing distance between older and younger people and with irregular, casual labour work, lacking empowerment to engage in productive activities that will build themselves a better foundation to sustain themselves daily. For these reasons, youths define their situation as boredom and dissatisfaction and living in frustration that drives them to demonstrate unacceptable behavior and do unwanted activities in the community. By addressing these issues, World Vision's YSED plus program has intervened and worked closely with ten targeted communities in East Malaita and 10 in the Northern Malaita province.
Marlon has been identified as an example of a youth who has an impact change due to the YSED project intervention. He struggles to create sustainable ties amidst an underprivileged life context in his community.
Marlon was once a shopkeeper in a Chinese shop in Honiara. He had decided to go back to the village and live with his mother. Lacking empowerment makes life much harder for him. From the humble beginning, Marlon usually bakes doughnuts daily to sell in his community. He started baking doughnuts, earning a few dollars up to $100 daily.
Together with other youths in his community and community members, they participated in training sessions facilitated by the YSED plus project team. Having gone through training such as Leadership & Management, Financial Literacy, and Mindset, Marlon is confident that he can make a difference for himself, for his family, and be a leader in his community.
Significantly, youth impact clubs were established through the YSED plus program to motivate, empower and unite youth innovations and creativity by sharing ideas and initiatives while showcasing individual leadership skills in the community. In addition, the Savings for transformation (S4T), Resilience Inclusive and Social Entrepreneur 2 (RISE 2), and IMPACT plus to the community targeted groups to empower and help them better understand, be knowledgeable and build their esteem to do more for themselves and to give back to the community as well.
Savings clubs have helped members save to meet their basic needs, such as school fees, medical fees, etc. RISE 2 approach training helps in increasing income from customers and inclusive planning for all members of the community, while the IMPACT plus allows them to identify gaps and plan to work together to build a community to be a resilient community.
"The training we had was an eye-opener; the training helped me to value myself, build my esteem and empower me to engage in community activities, income generating initiatives to build a better life for myself and my family and a happy and healthy community. And as for the Child Protection component of this program, training such as positive parenting has been done for us young parents and celebrating families. It helps me better understand the children's rights and the right disciplinary actions," shared Marlon.
Marlon has his business plan and is very excited about it and passionate about every little thing he does to earn his income. He dreamed of having a big piggery farm and supplying to those meat shops in Honiara, bride prize buyers, and those who need pigs for traditional ceremonies—aiming to sell one pig for a price ranging from $SBD1000-$SBD3000.
Through baking doughnuts, Marlon managed to save little by little and was able to buy two piglets from the profits he gained. The piglets have now grown up, and one of them just gave birth to eight piglets.
"I have not been encouraged to do more for myself until I have gone through training delivered by the project. I challenged myself to be different in a positive way. I now see my potential and the resources available here in my community, which I can build up from to do more and earn income to help my family, especially my children," said Marlon.
Marlon is married and has two beautiful children, ages 2 and 1. He is now one of the youth champions in his community, taking the lead role in helping other youths in his community see their potential and build on them.
Supported by the New Zealand Government, the World Vision Youth Social Entrepreneurship Development project plus currently works in North and East Malaita and aims to support 2,000 youth to realize their full potential to engage in the social and economic development of their various communities. Currently reaching over 7000 youths and counting.