Three Samoan Innovators Chosen for Global Forum

"My message is simply this, don't let the challenges stop you"



28 August 2021, Apia, Samoa. Three innovations from Samoa have been chosen from among many entries globally to be featured in the inaugural Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Solutions Forum, to be held on Monday and Tuesday 30th and 31st August.

Vaoala Vanilla, Maua App and Plastic Recycling Solutions Samoa (PRESS) will have the opportunity to address the global meeting to share their successes, highlight the challenges and support areas needed to take their innovations forward. 

Vaoala Vanilla, owned by Shelley Burich, is a Samoan owned ethical business using indigenous story-telling and organic techniques of growing and producing vanilla products.


Innovation and digitalization were critical to transforming her fortunes after COVID-19 affected her business.

“My message is simply this, do not let the challenges stop you,” Burich said during a press conference at FAO’s Tuanaimato office.

L-R: Andrew Pedrana, Shelly Burich and Fa’aso’otauloa Sam Saili. 📷 FAO

“It is a privilege to be able to be part of this conference. More than being a successful farmer, I want to motivate and inspire other Samoan women to become innovative to grow their businesses,” said Burich who is also the current President of Samoa’s Women Association of Growers (SWAG). 

The Chairperson and CEO of SkyEye Pacific, Fa’aso’otauloa Sam Saili, the company that operates the Maua App, echoed similar sentiments. Fa’aso’o encourages other entrepreneurs to be innovative as they look to overcome the challenges posed by COVID-19 and other pre-existing challenges such as climate change.

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“Pacific problems require Pacific solutions and I feel honoured that the Maua App has been identified as a solution to the challenges we face today,” Fa’aso’o said.

Referring to problems like the absence of an online payment gateway for most Samoans and the lack of street addresses, Fa’aso’o said the Maua App addresses a lot of these challenges.

He is particularly excited about the opportunity to share their successes with other SIDS and the possibility of expanding their reach.

Plastic Recycling Solutions Samoa is the brainchild of Samoan Entrepreneur, Andrew Pedrana, and his business partner, Ella Strachan, who started a plastic recycling project two years ago. The project focuses on changing people’s mindset around plastic being a throw away item and to raise awareness about the four R’s of plastic which is reduce, reuse, recycle and recover.

The innovators from Samoa will be joined by seven other innovators from other SIDS during the virtual conference.

The conference will be officially opened on Monday morning. 

Although most of the statements will be delivered live, or pre-recorded, Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, will address the meeting from Taumeasina Resort where Samoan participants have been invited to gather. The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Laaulialemalietoa Leuatea Schmidt and the Director General of SPREP, Leota Kosi Latu, are also expected to address the meeting from Taumeasina.

The SIDS Solutions Forum creates a space for government leaders, development partners, farmers, fishers, community development practitioners and leaders, entrepreneurs, women and youth to discuss, share, promote and encourage home-grown and imported solutions to respond to the challenges posed by COVID-19, and several of those that pre-existed the pandemic. 

The ultimate goal is to accelerate achievement of agriculture, food and nutrition-related SDGs in SIDS and achieve the goals set out in the SAMOA Pathway.

About FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is an intergovernmental organization that works in over 130 countries to help eliminate hunger and poverty. 

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