BRED Bank commits 1 million vatu to the 300 Coconut Bags project
The overwhelming success of small project aiming to improve the lives of vulnerable people in Vanuatu while helping the environment, has resulted in a 1 million vatu investment by BRED bank.
300 Coconut Bags was the brainchild of SPC’s Regional Office Melanesia, supporting innovation and social entrepreneurship in Vanuatu. Initially launched in 2020 with funding support from the Pacific Community and the Government of Canada, the project provides unemployed women and People With Disabilities with specialized sewing skills. With these skills participants create innovative products using recycled plastics and local materials such as pandanus mats.
The project has recently been moved by SPC into over by Pikinini Playtime, a school that caters for all students including those with disabilities, who hope to expand its services and products as a social enterprise. This will ensure a long-term success of the project to provide employment to People With Disabilities and unemployed youth
SPC’s Regional Director, Mia Rimon, approached BRED earlier this year about possible support. Having seen the success and popularity of 300 Coconuts, BRED Bank immediately recognised the long-term potential for this program to combat the problem of waste plastic while educating young people on the need to better manage waste and protect our environment.
For the CEO of BRED Bank, Mr Darryl Constantin, the investment in the project was an easy decision. “Investing in the people of our community is always a wise choice. This project provides benefits in education, employment and sustainable development. We are proud to be part of the effort and see a bright future for 300 Coconut Bags”
BRED Bank ‘s 1 million vatu donation to the project will help it establish commercial viability and become self-sustaining. The Founder of Pikinini Playtime, Mr Tony Batten, voiced his thanks: “This is an amazingly generous donation and we don’t know how to express our appreciation for BRED Bank’s confidence in us. The project has many challenges but we are overcoming them one at a time. We have the supply of materials and the manufacturing under control and the next step is to establish a market for the products.”
Mr Batten highlighted three areas of priority for the project. First, providing People With Disabilities an opportunity to obtain meaningful employment. Secondly as way to build students business management and marketing skills. And finally, to help encourage recycling and care for the environment.
The project is already moving to improve it’s operations with this BRED investment, through a partnership with VIT using a machine developed under the Canada funding that can combine several layers of used soft plastic food wrappers into a usable sheet of recycled plastic for use in making bags. Mr Batten said “This machine will give us a wider range of product options and enable us to make a dent in the amount of plastic that is discarded on our streets and in our communities.”
Ms. Rimon expressed her excitement about the future of the project. “The 300 Coconut Bags story shows the power of investing in local communities, and the wonderful opportunities that can open with just a bit of support. With the new investment from BRED and the ambitious plans of Pikinini Playtime, I can’t wait to see what the project will achieve.”