© 2009 VANWODS Microfinance

Open Day 2009

VANWODS Open Day was held last Friday, July 17. It kicked off at 8:30am with a parade through the streets of Port Vila. Most of the mamas made uniforms for their centres – imagine about 60 groups of 35 women wearing the same island dress. It’s really a cultural thing in Vanuatu – during ceremonies, all members of the same family wear matching clothes. It’s awesome that microfinance makes these women consider themselves to be a family.

Anyway, I estimate about 1500 women turned up. Apparently, twice as many women turned up last year, so numbers were down a little for some reason. Some women also apparently camped out overnight at where the parade route was to begin. The parade was definitely the highlight of the day for me, it was early so the energy was really high from everyone.

But we also scored a really important political point during the day. In Vanuatu, every business, regardless of how much they earn, have to pay 5000 vatu for a business license. It’s a real burden for our members when some of them only make a couple of hundred vatu in profit every week. The Ministry of Finance announced during Open Day that VANWODS members don’t have to pay for a licenses. Our Open Day isn’t really a fundraising event – it’s a day for the mamas, which is awesome – when they spend 364 days on their families every year, it’s great that they can have a day for themselves. But it’s also an important political event for us, in that it’s a show of our strength and the support that we receive from the community. In that sense, Open Day 2009 was a big success.

2 Responses to “Open Day 2009”

  1. Paulette Montaigne says:


    I was visiting Vila when I saw the VANWODS Open Day march on July 17th; it was indeed very impressive.

    I am a former resident of Vila (born there and left in 1980). This was my first visit to Vila in 12 years and I was surprised by the many changes. We rented 2 self-contained studios so we were able to shop for our food at the market. Produce was plentiful however there was very little variety. Has there been/is there discussions/studies to see how a variety of vegetables could be grown and sold by the Ni-Vanuatu women ? There is no doubt they are successful farmers when one sees all these produce at the markets however, why not introduce variety and thus increase their income ?

    I have bookmarked your site and will continue watching your progress. Thank you for sharing your experience. I may be back in Vanuatu sooner rather than later, and will make sure to contact VANWODS when I get there.



  2. Vanessa says:

    Hi Paulette, it is great to hear from you. I’m really glad that you got to see the march! It was an amazing experience to be walking amongst it, and to feel the solidarity of the mamas on the day.

    I agree, the lack of product differentation is such a big problem all over Vanuatu, in all different types of market sectors. As a volunteer, I’m here to develop training on entrepreneurship, and how to avoid the problem of copycat businesses is definitely something to be addressed (that is, if I can get funding!)

    Thanks again for your impressions, look forward to hearing from you when you’re back again in Vanuatu.

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