Taiwan journey inspires HATCH Participant
For HATCH participant Karita Siakisini of Sepora Lia (pictured right), whose company focuses on marketing authentic, quality Pasifika inspired jewellery, her month-long experience in Taiwan taught her the importance of valuing where you come from. The exchange also allowed her to utilise skills learnt when she started her HATCH journey in early 2018.
Karita, along with 11 Māori and Pacific tertiary students and recent graduates – four of which were fellow HATCH participants – spent four weeks learning Mandarin at the National Taiwan University (NTU) in Taipei City as part of the North Asia Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence (North Asia CAPE) Māori Business Scholars which expanded to include Kiva Business Scholars this year.
The group was given the opportunity to establish business networks and explore the many cultural, historical, and linguistic linkages between the people of the Pacific and the indigenous people of the island of Taiwan.
“During the weekends and after courses, we would go and connect with indigenous cultures through the Council of Indigenous People (CIP),” says the young Samoan business owner.
“We met indigenous people who studied and owned businesses, taking an interest in business like we did.”
For Karita, meeting business owners who were undertaking similar work to hers was comforting and inspiring. One particular business which attracted Karita was a Taiwanese high-end craft and handbag store, Kamaro’an.
Inspired by how the Taiwanese business owner enables local weavers to sell indigenous crafts under the Kamaro’an brand and store, Karita says it’s encouraging to see the work in a smaller scale in Taiwan, being aware of similar markets in the Pacific region.
It got her thinking about the potential global reach of her own business, an idea which HATCH has inspired her to think is possible with lessons she was able to take and apply with her in Taiwan.
“HATCH gave us the confidence to know and validate ourselves as businesses overseas,” says Karita. “We knew what we were talking about and when we had to talk about ourselves and our businesses. We learnt heaps from HATCH and were able to apply it there.”
For Karita, the narrative of our Pacific islands being small imperceptible dots was challenged by her experience in Taiwan.
“One of the biggest lessons from HATCH was to create, build and utilise our networks,” Karita says.
CAPE allowed her to put these lessons into practice and inspired her to aspire to more beyond our reefs.
“When you move forward in life, or start a business, you should remember where you’re from,” she says.
“This experience has taught me that we’re not just a small dot. We should remember that so we can strive to be more. We need to stop thinking that we’re just for our Pacific people. We are for our Pacific people, but we are so much more.”