An elderly micro business owner says she will continue to operate her market stall despite the difficult economic times faced by vendors at the Fugalei market.
Liitia Mikaele from Leualesi Leauvaa Uta has been selling home grown produce at the Fugalei market for over 20 years. Her small business venture is the only income earning activity for her family, but times are bad, business has been slow and there is little indication of change in the near future.
“This is the only family income for us. It helped us to pay for school fees and put all our children through school, provide food for our family as well as our church obligations for all these years,” she shares with Samoa Global News.
“Sa totogi uma ai lava pili o aoga, tausi ai le aiga ma fai ai mea faale-lotu faapea faalavelave..”
What is sold at the stall is grown by Liitia’s husband Tapu Mikaele who works the land on the family farm. The couple have four children – three boys and one girl. Their children all attended Leauvaa Primary School. Their only girl went to Laumua o Punaoa Technical Creative Centre at Faleula but has not been able to secure full time employment. Their eldest son now helps his father on the farm.
Liitia says her stall has struggled to bring in the same income since border closures. She says in all the years she has had a stall at the market, these are the lowest sales ever recorded.
“Some days there are no sales at all and some days only $40 tala,” says Litia.
“The main struggle we are facing here at the Fugalei market is that there are too many of us, and not enough customers,” she says.
“There are so many market vendors and so many tables here, but much fewer people come by here to buy our produce now..”
“Ua itiiti le fuainumera o tagata faatau mai, ae ua tele tele laulau ma mea mata faatau atu..
“O lau tupe e maua i le tele o aso e $40 le tupe lapoa lava, ma o isi aso a leai lava ni faatau ua leai foi se seleni.”
Litia says not only are they struggling with less customers, the high supply and low demand have driven prices down so that even the sales they do make are yielding low margins for them.
“It’s only when we drop the prices do we make a sale on some produce..”
“Seiloga e faapau i lalo tau faatoa iloa ua alu foi isi fualaauaina..”
Litia says Saturday is the only serious trading day nowadays and on some week days, she often packs up early and goes home after hours of sitting with no sales.
Litia says she started her micro enterprise by selling goods on the side of the road in her village, but had to move into town when many villagers started to grow their own produce, and sales dropped.
“This business has allowed us to put all our kids through school and I am so grateful to God that I still have the strength to carry on my duties as a mother and provider for our family,” says Litia.
Liitia says the cost of the daily rent for her “poloka” is $6 tala per day.
“When there are no sales, even that $6 tala can be a struggle to pay, but I have never missed paying my rent since I started,” she proudly states.
“O le mea faigata lava lena ona e aso uma ma totogi le rent ae o le vaiaso atoa lava e oti le tupe maua, e tau leai ni faatau.”
“O aso toanai lava e feololo lava tagata faatau ai, ae oo loa i aso o vaiaso e tau leai ma ni faatau.”
Liitia says she will continue with her stall at the market and hopes to see better economic times when border re-open.
“Maybe your readers will see this story and come buy from us,” she says.
“And when the borders open up, we will still be here..”