Remesio Qarau’s Labour Of Love

Retired Police Officer Remesio Qarau runs a small bakery business in his village of Dranikula in the province of Serua, about one and half hours from Suva city. Married to Metuera, a retired nurse, and together they have four children, two boys and two girls, the eldest being 32 years and youngest 25 years.

“I joined the Fiji Police Force in 1982 and worked on and off throughout the years, which culminated in in my final posting at the Navua Police Station, serving my province of Serua”, he said. “My wife, a former registered nurse, got transferred around Viti Levu a bit, so we moved with her during these transfers”, he added.

Upon leaving the Force, Qarau built his own home in the village, “I managed to build my home from my savings over the years”, he said. He also bought a 40HP outboard engine and boat to start a fishing business at the village around the same time.

He was hiring out his boat for $50 a night to divers in the village. “But I discovered that the boys were diving close to the reef and this damaged my outboard engine a fair bit”, he said. Repairing it became costly.

These boat hiring experiences left him considering venturing into something less arduous. “That’s when I thought of baking bread! I noticed there was a lot of demand for bread in the village, for functions, events and people were travelling out to Navua to buy bread for these sorts of things”, he said.

Again, with his savings, he started acquiring baking equipment. Flour Mills of Fiji (FMF) provided hands-on baking training for his children and before you know it, around February last year, his bakery was in full swing. “FMF came and trained my children bread making and it was all free!” he said.

Qarau buys ten to twelve 50kg bags of flour every week. And although the bakery business is operating well he notes that due to the price controls in place, not much profit is achieved.
To try and enhance profits, Qarau is looking at broadening his baking product range. “I am wanting to also include pastries like meat pies and sweet pastries. Not only to increase the choices we offer but to also try and expand on the profit margins”, he says.

Qarau recently attended the Resource Owner Entrepreneurship Training which was conducted by International Master Trainer Steve Cordeiro and funded by the iTaukei Trust Fund Board. “One key lesson from this training was if you are running a business, it’s always good to attempt another business to supplement your income”, he says.

He is now in the throes of establishing a cawaki (sea urchin) export business. His role in the venture is to harvest and supply the cawaki. From the recent resource owner training, he learnt that in a village setting, it’s better where possible, to engage the entire village, so that everyone is involved.

“So, I am going to involve the boys in the village for the diving of the cawaki and the women for processing and packing”, he says.

Two key takeaway lessons he mentioned he got from the resource owner entrepreneurship training was to expand his baking products line and to start a supplementary business.

“And if say, you are five years out from your retirement, this kind of training will really be helpful for you, especially if you are wanting to start a business”, he ends.

Retired Police Officer Remesio Qarau runs a small bakery business in his village of Dranikula in the province of Serua, about one and half hours from Suva city.