Government’s strategy to provide welfare assistance with the purpose of empowering recipients is “bearing fruit” for certain individuals.

For 72 year old Aborosio Marika Naleba of Waivola Settlement in Tailevu, Government’s welfare assistance has allowed him to venture for the first time into poultry business.

Empowering those under social welfare assistance to venture into workfare is one of the key strategies of the government which is aimed at alleviating poverty and promote independent living. This is primarily achieved through the government’s Welfare Graduation Programme which is administered by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Women and Poverty Alleviation.

The objective of the Welfare Graduation Programme as reiterated by the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama during the 2013 budget address is to provide income generating and employment opportunities for the social welfare recipients.

“Fiji cannot support a culture of dependency. We must commit ourselves to the idea that poverty is a temporary state and as a society, we must uphold the value of work and self-sufficiency. When people move from welfare to work, they regain their self-esteem and confidence. Some participants in this programme have already set up their own businesses or are finding permanent employment. With an allocation of $500,000, the “Welfare Graduation Programme” focuses on moving the social welfare recipients from welfare to workfare,” PM Bainimarama said.

Apart from poultry Mr Naleba is now using manure from his poultry farm and started farming water melon, pineapple and root crops for micro commercial purposes.

“I would like to thank the government of the day for this amazing opportunity that has enabled me to improve the livelihood of my family, with the income earned I am able to even support the educational needs of my grandchildren as well. In particular I would like to thank our leader PM Bainimarama for initiating economic opportunities for less privileged people like me to build a good future by starting our own business.

“I would also like to thank the social welfare office in Nausori for their frequent visit to help me with my business. With this poultry project I am able to earn triple the amount of money which I used to receive as monthly welfare allowance. Now I am confidently living a much better life, use my time wisely and support my family without having to depend on anyone else. I like this project very much, even at this age I can work and provide for my family,” Mr Naleba added.

Through the Welfare Graduation Programme, the Ministry works together with National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED), to assist the social welfare recipients to venture into economic projects.

The recipients are not only provided with the training, they are also assisted financially to start their income generating projects which is closely monitored by the Ministry. Last year the Ministry supported around 32 livelihood projects with 39 sewing programs which are progressing well.