Market Mamas Work Together to Promote Vanuatu-made Products

Rosalie’s day starts at 4 a.m., kneading coconut cream rolls with her eldest daughter to sell at the local community shop down the road from her house. As with the rest of her day, it begins with collaboration.

“We all take part together to do the work at home like making breakfast, grating the coconut. I teach my kids how to do different things at home. At the end of it they receive the cash and put it in the bank. It makes them happy,” she says.

She continues, walking along the seafront to her day job as an arts and handicrafts trader, or ‘market mama’ as they are colloquially referred to in Vanuatu. Rosalie’s stall is full of white t-shirts with colourful island life scenes hand painted on them, kaleidoscopic island dresses, intricately woven baskets and timber carved in all shapes and sizes.

Rosalie is not just any market mama. She is the founder of Bulvanua Arts & Handicrafts – a cooperative of 30 traders who are promoting Made in Vanuatu products in place of imported products.

“Most of the women who are in the business of selling arts and handicrafts are actually selling imported products,” Rosalie says.