Informal economy

ILO,UNESCO and UNDP joined forces to boost entrepreneurship skills in the Solomon Islands

ILO, UNESCO, and UNDP collaborate for the Training of Trainers on Start and Improve Your Business Tools.

News | 04 October 2023
Participants of the Training of Trainers, Honiara, Solomon Islands. © ILO
HONIARA (ILO News) – To cultivate a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Solomon Islands, the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) joined forces to launch a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop on the ILO’s flagship Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme. This activity was supported by the European Union and The Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States, and the Joint SDG fund.

This workshop, held from 25 September to 4 October 2023 in Honiara, aimed to empower local business trainers, including participants from the Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI), Ministry of Culture and Tourism, to help entrepreneurs establish and grow their ventures in the Solomon Islands.
“Given this opportunity to be trained as trainers in business development, we are now equipped to provide our support to entrepreneurs and their businesses.” – Josie-Anne Ashley, Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI).

The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector holds a pivotal role in the economic development of the Pacific Island Countries, not only as a catalyst for entrepreneurship, innovation, and productivity but also as a substantial source of employment opportunities, including youth and women, who often face challenges in accessing formal employment and formalizing their businesses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly hindered the growth of MSMEs in the Pacific.

In response, the ILO is committed to unlocking the entrepreneurial potential and promoting gradual enterprise formalization in the country through its SIYB programme, the world's largest business management training initiative, with a presence in over 100 countries. Additionally, to address the shortage of SIYB trainers, training sessions aim to expand the pool of skilled trainers in the region, capable of providing tailored SIYB training for both emerging and established MSMEs in the Solomon Islands.

Participants were selected by the ILO from a broad array of sectors including business development support providers, financial and telecom service providers, and relevant government departments that support entrepreneurs, ensuring a rich exchange of expertise. Over the course of nine days, selected participants successfully completed SIYB trainer certification, gaining the necessary skills and knowledge required to guide entrepreneurs in establishing, scaling, and sustaining their businesses.
“I will apply this knowledge and skills to train others both YECSI members and also potential or existing entrepreneurs. This training will also assist me in starting my private consulting business which aims to do individual and group counseling for young entrepreneurs and women in business” – Josie-Anne Ashley, Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI).

Integrating green practices and digital tools

Workshop participants engaged and expert Gemunu Wijesena. © ILO
The workshop provided an integrated approach to starting and sustain a business, tailored to cater to the specific needs of MSMEs in the Solomon Islands, with emphasis on digital transformation, green business initiatives, and sustainability.

Given the Pacific Island Countries’ extreme vulnerability to climate change and frequent natural disasters, and the growing importance of the digital economy, the SIYB programme prioritized the adoption of green practices and digital tools as a strategy to enhance business resilience and contribute to enterprise formalization. Leveraging the latest digital technologies, participants were challenged to develop sustainable business ideas and plans aimed at promoting responsible consumption, minimizing pollution and waste, limiting greenhouse emissions, and preserving ecosystems.

Immersive training for real-world business challenges

Prioritizing active learning, the workshop empowered participants to translate their knowledge into actionable steps, blending theoretical knowledge with practical applications. The workshop featured a business simulation game that provided participants with firsthand experience and insights into the business cycle, planning based on market data, and mastering skills such as pricing and negotiation.

“The practice sessions were really helpful. Participants had an opportunity to present a topic session and get feedback on their performance from the Master Trainer and the participant audience.” – Josie-Anne Ashley, Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI).

Participants explored diverse topics crucial for business development and growth, from crafting marketing strategies, business plans and understanding human resource management to mastering book-keeping, financial planning, legal and administrative responsibilities, and digital marketing tools, among others.

The SIYB's versatile programme, which incorporates a variety of techniques including case studies, interactive games, group activities, and discussions, and employs different training modules—Generate Your Business Idea (GYB), Start Your Business (SYB), Improve Your Business (IYB), and Expand Your Business (EYB)—is designed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs at different stages of their entrepreneurial journey, ranging from starting entrepreneurs to established business owners in need of robust business growth strategies.

The skill-set developed by the beneficiaries of training equips the entrepreneurs with the ability to improve productivity of their business activities, promoting their sustainability and making MSMEs ready to undergo gradual formalization.

“The different training methods, how to involve the audiences such as discussions, questions, quizzes and group work” - Julie Fakaia, Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Workshop participants engaged in collaborative group activities. © ILO

Tapping into the potential of the creative industry

Recognizing the vibrant potential of the Solomon Islands' creative economy, the ninth day of the workshop was designed to enhance entrepreneurship skills, with an emphasis on the music industry, aiming to amplify its economic impact.
“The highlight of the TOT workshop was training artisans to utilize their talents to become entrepreneurs” - Julie Fakaia, Ministry of Culture and Tourism

This segment brought together industry insiders, including musicians, entrepreneurs, managers, producers, and audio engineers, facilitating discussions on various insights, challenges, and success stories while refining business skills and addressing the importance of protecting intellectual property.

As the training concluded, participants emerged with a comprehensive understanding of the music industry's ecosystem, enabling them to map out the value chain in the Solomon Islands' music industry. Equipped with tools and strategies, they are now poised to analyze market opportunities and constraints, providing a practical perspective for drafting actionable plans to capitalize on the industry's market potential.