The building housing the Iumi Waka co-working space behind of the Town Ground Plaza beside the road up to Lengakiki.
Creating a collaborative environment where young entrepreneurs can develop business ideas, improve technical skills and learn from like-minded young business people is a step in the right direction to help address the high youth unemployment rate in the country.
Coordinator of the Young Entrepreneurs Council Solomon Islands (YECSI), John Wopereis made the statement when speaking at the launch of ‘Iumi Waka’, the first co-working space in Honiara City where youths can go and work on their ideas and access opportunities to develop their business.
The co-working space was developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with Country Investment Facility funding and in collaboration with the Ministry of Commerce, Immigration, Labour and Industry (MCILI).
It is the first resource center in the country that will aid the Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA), YECSI and other local organizations in fostering the next generation of business leaders.
Mr Wopereis acknowledge that YECSI is proud to partner with UNDP and MCILI in the creation of Iumi Waka.
“To support entrepreneurs, you need a conducive environment that actually recognizes entrepreneurs and enables them to grow.
“Now the reality is the current business environment in the Solomon Islands is very difficult and it’s only the hard work, grit, sweat and stressful days of an entrepreneur that makes them succeed,” he said.
YECSI held a series of focus group meetings with potential members last year to gain insight into the issues entrepreneurs face in the Solomon Islands.
Among the notable issues highlighted during those focus group meetings was there is no space available for entrepreneurs to work on their ideas and businesses.
“Finally, entrepreneurs have a small space dedicated for them, that recognizes them and offers them more opportunities in 2019.
“Iumi Waka will not solve all the space problem entrepreneurs face by itself, but it’s a step in the right direction,” YECSI Coordinator, Mr Wopereis, said.
From a business perspective, co-working spaces offer founders and young professionals the possibility to meet like-minded people, giving them further opportunities for business.
“Young entrepreneurs and freelancers can take advantage of standard office amenities while tapping in the human potential of an office,” Mr Wopereis said.
By offering basic office amenities, regular training and opportunities to network with peers and experienced members of the business community, Iumi Waka will be a resource center supporting all types of entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 34 from both formal and informal sectors as well as aspiring young entrepreneurs
YECSI is a successful Private Public Partnership between the Solomon Islands Government and the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry known (SICCI).
Alongside membership services, YECSI’s key focus is to advocate for an improved business environment so that young entrepreneurs can actually go into business and have a higher chance of success.