Local Woman Entrepreneur to Launch HIWA Samoa Online

Shelley Burich, Samoan Entrepreneur and Vanilla grower.

A local woman entrepreneur has partnered with her indigenous alumni in New Zealand to bring the HIWA Aotearoa Online E-commerce Business Programme to Samoa. HIWA is a 9 week online programme that focuses on coaching and mentoring participants through a journey of self-development and self-discovery aimed at empowering businesses to navigate and excel through the use of e-commerce platforms.

Founder of Vaoala Vanilla and an ecommerce entrepreneur herself, Shelley Burich, will be the lead facilitator to roll out the programme for local entrepreneurs. “I am so excited to be able to share what I gained personally, spiritually and professionally from HIWA and Shopify with local Samoan women entrepreneurs” says Birch, “I can’t wait to watch the  transformation of their journey…this is going to be an AMAZING journey for us all.”

On the HIWA website, it explains that, “HIWA descends from the celestial goddess Hiwa-i-te-rangi. HIWA is the star that Māori send their dreams and aspirations to, so that they will be realised.”  The course is based on Te Ao Māori protocols and practices, and HIWA weaves Indigenous cultural practices throughout.  Through HIWA we welcome your ancestral knowledge, your cultural worldview and your baskets of knowlege to the programme.”

The Rise2025 Global Coaching Programme will introduce their signature HIWA Ecommerce Business Programme online and in partnership with Shelley Burich as Lead Facilitator and Shopify Guru for the Technical Support lessons

Understanding digital technology and e-commerce is often a scary idea for many women entrepreneurs, particularly where access to simple, easy to understand e-commerce training, with local help and support, is often lacking.

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The global Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the migration from offline to online business models across the globe.  E-commerce is increasingly being seen as a possible solution to addressing barriers such as closed borders and restricted travel.  E-commerce allows entrepreneurs to undertake business from their home and in their own time, and opens a significantly larger market for their products and services.

Across the Pacific, governments, regional organisations, and the private sector are prioritising e-commerce as a means of building economic resilience and delivering inclusive growth.  Despite this prioritisation, there are a number of barriers to indigenous entrepreneurs diversifying into this space, including a lack of capacity among entrepreneurs, a fear of the unknown, limited access to relevant and culturally appropriate training and small business networks, and institutional barriers such as difficulty in accessing information and closed international payment gateways. These barriers are magnified for women entrepreneurs.

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The Founder of Rise2025, Rachel Petero of Aotearoa (NZ) started Rise2025 in 2015 to give Indigenous women globally, equal access to world-class training and development as coaches, leaders and business owners.  They started with TAHI their hero programme, to grow their tribe of professionally trained coaches, they then developed TŌPŪ to grow their tribe of Indigenous leaders, and then in 2020 they launched HIWA to develop Indigenous women in ecommerce.

All of their programmes are delivered online and connect women from Aotearoa, Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Australia, Canada and Chile.  Their purpose and mission is to transform the lives of 100,000 Indigenous women and their families, to RISE and THRIVE through their empowerment, ecommerce and entrepreneurship programmes by 2025. Based in Aotearoa, New Zealand Rise2025 is 100% Indigenous-owned and operated by a core team which is a mix of Māori and Pacific Island women with diverse industry, community and tribal expertise.

HIWA is for Indigenous by Indigenous women with Facilitators being graduates of TAHI and HIWA (Maori and Samoan), who all have their own entrepreneurial business, are mothers and work in their communities.  HIWA is a transformational journey of coaching, culture and commerce.


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Shelley Burich who is locally known as the sole commercial vanilla farmer in Samoa is a Graduate of the 2020 HIWA Aotearoa programme.  She diversified her vanilla business, Vaoala Vanilla to e-business using the Shopify Ecommerce platform.  Shelley built her own Shopify website and online store through the learning resources and mentorship she received from HIWA.  Shelley is also a Shopify Partner in Samoa and has just completed delivering Shopify technical support sessions for the HIWA Aotearoa program last month.

Two years forward, Shelley and Rachel have teamed up in a collective partnership to introduce the inaugural HIWA Samoa programme for local Samoan women entrepreneurs. The inaugural Samoa programme is being funded by Rise2025. Shopify Global Indigenous Lead, Hepa Te Moana says “Shopify selected Rise2025 in 2020 as one of our first Indigenous entrepreneurship hub partners because of their history of providing locally and culturally relevant training for Māori and Pacific Wāhine.”

With the first week commencing on Saturday May 14th through to the 5th of July 2022 (Graduation Day), 11 Samoa-based women entrepreneurs will undergo 9 weeks of online training in mind-set and business coaching and Shopify tech mentoring sessions led by Shelley and the HIWA Facilitators and Coaches.

Shelley will be supported by Rise2025 Facilitators Amy McLean, a graduate of TAHI, and co-Facilitators Lady Talaepa and Perise Iupeli who are also graduates of HIWA Aotearoa.

“Lifting the capability of Indigenous women globally as business owners and leaders through coaching is our core business. Indigenous-centred training for Indigenous women by Indigenous women is the gap in the market that we fill. Our vision is for Shelley and her team to deliver HIWA in Samoa for Samoan women. As one Indigenous woman rises we all rise” says Rachel Petero.

Shelley and Rachel are confident that this will be the first of many more HIWA Samoa programmes in the immediate future.  “To now be able to offer the same opportunities I received and to help Samoan women reach their full potential in ecommerce, and build this amazing indigenous sisterhood, is the biggest reward for me.” (Shelley Burich)

Shelley says she looks forward to strengthening and growing this partnership with Rise2025, Shopify Canada, other local and regional indigenous entrepreneurs and organisations for the future and feels that the time is right for more of these types of indigenous partnerships to rise and prosper together.

Hiwa Samoa banner: Rachel Petero (NZ) & Shelley Burich (Samoa)