I first watched the movie “pay it forward” in 2009. I was moved by the concept of paying it forward, to think that someone had the idea to encapsulate what my upbringing had taught me, that is of doing whatever you could to help someone out, without the need for gaining something for yourself.
In the small town where my father grew up, his family were well known for displaying this type of ethos. In the tough times during the Great Depression in particular they ensured that those who couldn’t afford to pay their bills were still valued as customers and were not hounded to pay at the end of the month, times were afterall tough. And so, my father passed onto his children the concept of Paying it Forward.
When my own family’s love affair commenced with Vanuatu, the idea of creating a sustainable model of a hand up which became Lav Kokonas, which fitted around our family was conceived. Paying it Forward in Vanuatu.
We have developed grass roots relationships with many communities on many islands around Vanuatu. Some of these relationships commenced in New Zealand, with ni-Vanuatu people who travel to New Zealand for anywhere between 3 and 9 months to work in the fruit industries – apples, kiwifruit and grapes. We do what we can to make these people feel included in our community whilst they are living amongst us, and show them love and care by becoming their friends. In Vanuatu itself, we have chosen to stay in local (mainly in ni-Vanuatu family run bungalows) so that we can get to know the real Vanuatu – the people. We have been fortunate to build relationships with key suppliers and not for profit organisations, such as Volunteer Vanuatu and World Vision, who have given us the opportunities to enhance our business connections. We are grateful to these people, maybe they also believe in the power of paying it forward.
Being in business doesn’t mean that you’re your whole focus has to be about money. Yes, money is required and yes, we have committed to 10% of our profits being donated back to those communities that supply our Virgin Coconut Oil, Tamanu Oil, spices etc. however, we have proven that you can still make a meaningful contribution without money.