Afelita’s – keeping small businesses sustainable

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Running a small business is never easy, especially in the tourism industry and especially if you have to do it all yourself. Ensuring that the business is environmentally sustainable makes the challenge even more daunting but that’s exactly what Afelita’s is about. A small boutique island resort in Tuvalu, owned and operated by a husband and wife team, Afelita’s proves that it can be done.

Lita Pita, along with her husband are the proprietors of Afelita in Funafuti, Tuvalu. She is also the manager, the chef, the receptionist, the hostess or the tour guide. She is whatever Afelita needs her to be to ensure that it keeps running. Being on an island away for the mainland has its own sets of challenges, but Afelita’s has taken this on and sees these as opportunities of how they can be creative in meeting their needs. The resort is powered by solar panels and grows its own food in organic gardens.

One of the shortcomings that Lita felt was in her skills as a chef however she recently had the opportunity to improve this through training provided by SPTO and the Government of Tuvalu. The training focused on Food and Beverage, Food Safety and Handling and Customer Service for the tourism industry targeted at communities and youth in and around Funafuti as a means of gaining new skills. Lita had a very positive experience during the training and it also changed her outlook on how she runs her business.

“I didn’t have the confidence to present my cooking to my guests because I knew that something is missing. I needed some training in some basics of doing things local to meet international standard. When I was invited to the first week of the workshop here, I thought it’s business as usual.

No, I was amazed at all the learning that took place. A need in the market very practical and hands on! The second week was more exciting. Of course, I read cookery books but nothing compared to watching the trainers in action and us trying it ourselves. We learnt to make cocktail food, soups, main courses and salads.

I gave a speech during closing, I cried all through. This training filled that void in my cooking, operating and running of Afelita. Before I would get stressed when people book to come eat at Afelita. Now I have confidence, I am showcasing my training and I have guests saying nice things about the display and the taste of food – I never tasted my food before now I do.  Our local food has a bland taste now there is a spice in taste.”

SPTO was delighted to receive such positive feedback that reinforced the idea of providing quality training to small businesses, communities and youth groups to ensure that they are able to reap the benefits that tourism brings in sustainable ways.

The training was part of SPTO’s support for Tuvalu as an SPTO member country. With the Leaders’ Meeting in August, ServicePro Training and Consultancy Services of Fiji conducted the training under the oversight of the Tuvalu Ministry of Tourism and SPTO.