News Item

Jack of all trades

Success Stories 18 Jan 2019

With Vanuatu's limited resources in training and education, PCF Summer intern Jack Philip knew that in order to make a difference in his home country, he had to make some sacrifices and leave Vanuatu temporarily to study abroad.

Studying a Bachelor of Electronic Commerce at the University of Waikato, Jack says his qualification will enable him to help small-medium enterprises in Vanuatu's rural areas.

Familiar with the struggles that come with rural living, Jack opens up about his early life.

"I was born in Port Vila then brought to Malekula island where I was raised in a humble, small village." he says,

"Both of my parents are subsistence farmers, they earn their living through farming and fishing. Growing up I remember seeing them leave Malekula occasionally for Port Vila."

"At Port Vila I attended primary and secondary school but due to problems with my school fees I had to drop out."

Despite not being able to complete secondary school, Jack managed to find work in a government agency which he is grateful for as it allowed him to discover other opportunities.

"I could only work part-time but from there I started to take some foundation courses at the University of the South Pacific," he explains

"Once I had finished my course, I was fortunate to receive a short-term training scholarship from MFAT to study at the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) in Queenstown."

"I would say getting that short-term scholarship has been my proudest achievement. Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places in the world and while I was there, I reflected on all my struggles I had been through and what it took to get me to that place."

In 2013, Jack completed his training at SIT and returned to Vanuatu. Upon his return he co-founded the Uluveo Student Association.

(Jack - pictured in the middle with the Uluveo Student Association members)

"The association encourages ni-Vanuatu students based in Port Vila to focus on studies, do some community work and have a spiritual life so that they don't get into drugs, alcohol and petty crimes."

"Since its establishment, we've had great success stories where some of our members have graduated and entered the workforce. In 2016, three of our members were awarded scholarships including myself."

Jack's second scholarship from MFAT, meant he was headed for New Zealand again but this time to Hamilton which he now considers his home away from home.

While many may find living and studying abroad challenging, Jack says it is his grandfather who keeps him grounded, reminding him to never forget where he came from and to have an 'attitude of gratitude'.

"My grandfather taught me to always be happy with what you have. This makes me appreciate everything that comes my way even if the experience is negative."

When asked about how he will contribute to Vanuatu's development, Jack says he hopes that his passion for technology will help his community, particularly small medium enterprises achieve their dreams.

"I think with geographical isolation of the islands. especially with the likes of Vanuatu, it is hard for small-medium enterprises to trade their products and services."

"Therefore, what I think would help solve this issue is to use technology. One classic example of using technology is to develop an e-commerce platform as an online marketplace for rural SMEs."

"There's a huge opportunity there because with the internet speed increasing in the future, this would be a cost-saving option for the SMEs allowing them to trade locally, regionally and globally."

Making the most of his internship at Te Waka - an economic development agency based in Hamilton, Jack says his experience has made him think about where he sees himself in the future.

"Perhaps in ten years' time, I'd start a technological company that can create some products to help the productive sector in Vanuatu in areas like agriculture, forestry and fisheries."