News 10 May 2017
ALFA Fishing founder Alfred Kalontas knows what it is like to struggle in business. He has built his enterprise from ground up to become the preferred seafood supplier to over 70 percent of the hotels and restaurants in Vanuatu’s capital, Port Vila.
Two years ago, Alfred took part in Pacific Cooperation Foundation’s (PCF) Grow Pacific programme, which upskills Pacific business entrepreneurs in online marketing.
Since then, his business has flourished, and Alfa Fishing is now starting to export high-quality, sustainably caught products to New Zealand, while also seeing demand from Australia and beyond.
He has kindly agreed to be part of a panel on sustainability at Monday’s Pacific-NZ Fisheries Forum, at Auckland’s Rydges Hotel, where he will give insight into how he has created a sustainable model suited for the Pacific.
Alfred’s vision has always been to use sustainable seafood markets to build new livelihoods, reduce poverty and improve nutrition in Vanuatu.
He started with ALFA Fishing’s core business, providing high-quality sustainable seafood to restaurants and hotels.
ALFA Fishing is essentially creating a new economy on Vanuatu’s small outer islands, by teaching unemployed young people how to make their own canoes and reels, and how to fish sustainably and maintain quality.
The company provides ice and bait and buys 100 percent of the catch at above-market prices, which means there is no bycatch and apprentice fishers can quickly build their business.
While Alfred was growing Alfa Fishing, fish he could not sell was taken home to his wife, who created prepared dishes to sell at local markets.
This generated enough cash to feed the family and Alfred quickly saw that with his increasing seafood supply, he could use the same strategy to help other families create their own microenterprises.
He set up ALFA Fishing’s FAMUL Programme, which provides small packages of mixed seafood at nominal prices to women from very low-income families.
Participants must use about half the portions they receive to feed their family, and then can sell the rest either directly or in the form of soups, curries and other products.
The women can easily cover the costs of the FAMUL packets and to earn a small profit each week.
This income brings them respect in the household, their children get more nutritious food, and they slowly work their way out of poverty, gaining business skills and confidence as they do so.
There is no reason why ALFA Fishing can’t be a model for change worldwide, while offering a way to sustainably use ocean resources to preserve local cultures, eradicate poverty, create livelihoods and improve nutrition, if it receives enough resources and funding to keep expanding.
Photo credit: National Geographic Voices.