Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) Entrepreneur of the Year South Regional winner Herilla Salu says her experience dabbling in business has allowed her to embrace the Samoan culture and integrate it into ideas she conceives.
With connections to Vailoa Palauli, Savaii and Afega, Upolu, Herilla was born and raised in South Auckland. She is currently in Year 13, at Mangere College.
At the start of 2020, Herilla chose to participate in YES as it offered various courses she was interested in, the aspirational businesswoman explains.
She was one of 485 Pacific students, making up 92 Pacific companies - 65 of which were based in Auckland - who took part in YES this year.
The number of Pacific students has been on the increase over the past few years, something Herilla hopes will continue.
“I think it is important we have more Pasifika businesses because it gives brown people more opportunity to serve their culture, while upholding cultural values and traditions.”
As Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of handym8tz, Herilla and her Mangere College teammates produced reusable bags using up-cycled headrest materials, provided by Air New Zealand.
“The challenges YES provides has definitely helped me gain a bit more knowledge in the business industry,” Herilla says.
Meanwhile, winning the South regional competition is poignant to Herilla, who as a brown woman from South Auckland does not always gain access to opportunities such as participating in YES.
“I feel grateful we have been gifted with the chance to embrace our culture in the ideas we conceptualise.”
Looking ahead, Herilla aspires to become a successful entrepreneur and a CEO who is willing to serve and represent her culture and heritage.
“I want to be able to do great things for my business and become a role model for young entrepreneurs.”
Another young woman was successful at the recent regional finals, with St Mary’s College student Pauline Abeleda taking out the Entrepreneur of the Year (Central region) for her efforts as the Chief Marketing Officer of Pacific-inspired business Fika.
Throughout 2020, Fika has been selling Māori and Pasifika inspired roller oil blends made with essential oils, scents and meanings which reminds these cultures of their homes.
“Our business also educates citizens in Aotearoa about the different cultures present within our communities,” Pauline says.
“We aim to create the best quality product while promoting positive Hauora and easing stress within students.”
The upcoming Lion Foundation Young Enterprise Scheme National Awards on December 10 will showcase and celebration of the entrepreneurial successes of YES students, bringing together the top YES companies from across New Zealand.
The Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) funds a dedicated Roaming Teacher for Pacific YES students, to help encourage Pacific young people to discover their potential in business and in life, while at the same time, building a successful, resilient and thriving Pacific population.