Never give up – When the going gets tough

Nemaia Kubunameca shows the voivoi that he also sells at his stall at Suva’s Flea Market. Picture: UNAISI RATUBALAVU

“Do not give up when the going gets tough.”

That is the motto that drives Nemaia Salavou Kubunameca, who’s become all too familiar with tragedy.

Kubunameca was running a small shop and a yaqona farm in his village of Nukutocia on Ovalau in Lomaiviti Province when disaster struck.

“Cyclone Winston destroyed everything including my house, shop and my yaqona farm,” he said.

“So, I decided to move to Suva to work in the flea market. Then I had my own stall and sold handicraft and wreaths.”

However, in May 2020 disaster struck again. “My stall caught fire, so I lost everything,” Kubunameca.

“But I’ve never given up, I started from scratch again with my wife by my side.”

With his business, many iTaukei families and individuals order sets of mats for traditional weddings, birthdays or funerals.

“So, my wife and a few other women weave mats to meet those orders,’’ Kubunameca said. Two years on, and he has another stall at the refurbished flea market. Apart from selling handicraft, Kubunameca also sells snacks along the end of Grantham Rd in Nabua from 3pm to 6pm on Monday to Friday.

“Some people might look down on us peanut sellers, but this is earning money every day,” he added.

And now with sporting events happening around the country — Kubunameca sells snacks such as peas and peanuts at Skipper Cup matches.

“I also sell umbrellas at those sporting venues and even flags, if our national team is playing,” he said.

He starts his day about 7am, when he arrives at the flea market to open his stall. “I also sell pandanus leaves or voivoi.

“I buy them from Nairai and Kadavu and sell them to mat weavers in Suva.

“I even sell those plastic fans when it is a hot day in town.”

Kubunameca thanks the Government for giving grants to small businesses after the lockdown.

“It was not easy for many of us during the pandemic, business ground to a halt,” he said.

He adds it is also important for businesspeople to work hard for their income and be positive even though business conditions are not favourable.

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