The Political Science Program at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMU-K), with the assistance of the University’s Division of International Studies & Programs, is pleased to introduce its Pacific Studies Program 2015 - a collaborative initiative between A&M-Kingsville and the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. The Pacific Studies Program (PSP) is being co-directed by Dr. Nirmal Goswami, Professor of Political Science, TAMU-K and Dr. Elaine Webster, Director, Summer School and Continuing Education, University of Otago. The PSP will include graduate and undergraduate students traveling to and staying in New Zealand in July of 2015, attending classes at the University of Otago, and visiting multiple sites through field trips in the greater Otago region. Areas of focus include history, politics, economics, culture, sustainability and environmental policies, etc., with reference to both the greater Pacific region and New Zealand. You are all invited to cyber travel with us as we learn about the uniqueness of New Zealand and the surrounding region. This blog will document our experience. You are welcome to post comments.

Hoggies NZ Slideshow

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Coconuts, Bananas, and Socioeconomics

University of Otago (UO) Professor, Dr. Sarah Walton, began one of our  classes by referring to a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called Women in Business Development Inc., (WIBDI). This NGO started in 1991 and focuses on creating economic opportunities for local populations in Samoa. The reason this is a prime example of socioeconomics is because WIBDI uses Samoan culture and traditions as a “backbone” for many of its programs.  WIBDI emphasizes social impact rather than only profit. It creates goods with an entrepreneurial spirit, however the end goal is ethically-based social advancement. The NGO supports products like coconut oil and dried banana snacks by working directly with home-based rural residents, especially women, making these items.  
WIBDI worked with local cultures without intervening in family values and roles. This approach, sometimes, led to issues like tensions with male family members when women generated high incomes. WIBDI addresses these types of consequences as well. WIBDI, in essence, is an example of how a business endeavor can go beyond commerce to help small populations in difficult circumstances become economically self-sustaining, and still retain cultural traditions. 

-- Dakota R. 

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