Meet Mathias Boe!
Mathias Boe knows the value of working hard to achieve a goal and the importance of not quitting- even when life is hard. Working hard and focusing on achieving his goals have got him where he is today. Mathias grandfather and inspiration was the late Anis Ernest Mathias from Ambae a well-known business man in Vila in the 90s. Mathias was inspired early in life to be his own boss.
Despite facing many challenges, with perseverance and assistance from Youth Challenge Vanuatu and other various organisations, Mathias is in the gate way of more knowledge he deserved a long time ago.
Mathias finished Year 12 at Malapoa College and enrolled at the University of the South Pacific in 2006, however he realised his family would not be able to support his studies. He also decided then he would pursue his dream to owning his own business and so he withdrew from his degree program.
While working for a private company in 2008 Mathias began to notice that he and his Ni-Vanuatu colleagues worked like slaves to receive low salaries while making money for the business’ owners.
It was during this time there was a shortage of potatoes and he thought of the days when his grandfather grew and sold potatoes in Vanuatu and he decided to get qualifications in business management. These matters continued to stimulate his strong interest in starting his own business.
Mathias looked for faster ways to improve his knowledge of business and in 2009 enrolled in courses at the Vanuatu Chamber Commerce and Industries (VCCI), but even after completion he still lacked the capital he needed to start his business. VCCI trainers Horie Simon and Toko Mara recognised his potential and keen interest in class and so suggested he join the intake of the Ready for Business Program at Youth Challenge Vanuatu (YCV).
Selected for the YCV Ready for Business (RFB) Program, Mathias completed the training and secured a cash grant to kick start his business. The 50,000VT cash grant he received from the program after he successfully submitted a business idea. His idea was the Kensai Art business- which he based on his skills.
Two years after he started Kensai Art, one of his parents retired and Mathias realised that he could not support the family on his business income. He applied and was employed with the National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) for five years and supported his mother with a retail shop.
When things improved financially with his family, Mathias left the NBV in 2016 to focus on his business and being his own boss as he first planned ten years earlier. At this stage he was confident and secured a table at the Port Vila’s market house where he painted portraits and sold his products, slowly building a client base. “My earning per day in my business was more than what I get as a bank teller and I can do many other things at the same time because I have become my own boss”.
Mathias is a budding musician and volunteers for the popular Fest Napuan Music Festival and is a drummer for the Young Life Reggae band.
Mathias regularly visited the YCV office to search for more opportunities. Mathias business venture has opened many doors for him, such as joining the Nawita Art Association 2016. Mathias also participated in the inaugural Economic Empowerment Forum organised by the Vanuatu Youth Livelihood Network and advocate on issues affecting youth in business in Vanuatu.
In 2017, Mathias was selected by the Nawita Art Association and the Eye Art Humpty Dumpty Institute in New York to attend an Art Exhibition in July to August to promote art as the eye into the livelihood of challenges encountered by societies in the third world countries.
Following the inaugural National Dialogue on youth entrepreneurship organised by the UNDP through Department of Youth, Training and Sport, Vanuatu National Youth Council-VNYC, Vanuatu Young Entrepreneurs Council – VYEC and YCV in November 2017. In that Forum, Mathias was selected to attend a Youth Entrepreneurs summit- Youth CO: LAB in Bangkok, Thailand in May to present his business idea for the development of art in Vanuatu.
Mathias credits YCV for developing his leadership skills. Mathias said he wants to share his story with young people to motivate those especially vulnerable youth. Mathias is a youth leader at the church he attends and leads the Family Band. This year, Mathias was elected to chair the Fest Napuan Committee, and is the president of the Vanuatu National Young Entrepreneurs Council under the VCCI. Mathias developed a leadership spirit through his involvement with YCV and wanted to share his knowledge and experience with young people around him by being a role model.
The last 12 years have been a long and hard journey for Mathias- during which he never quit his dream of owning a business despite all the hardship he faced. This month Mathias turns 35 and his hard work has paid off- he leaves for New Zealand to study for a Diploma in Business Management.
The challenging journey to gaining the knowledge, experience, financial support and mentoring he has long desired has finally come to fruition thanks to his own persistence and the opportunities offered through YCV.
Mathias’ story is a testimony to all young Ni-Vans- have a dream, work towards that dream, if you are struggling at the moment, keep on trying, do not give up, do not quit on your dream, it may take years but still you will get there.
Youth Challenge Vanuatu RFB program has been operating successfully for almost ten years, with the aim of tackling youth unemployment through self-employment. The next intake will commence at the end of June 2018. Young people who wish to turn their skills into businesses are encouraged to visit YCV’s Job website Wokikik www.wokikik.vu and the media outlets for updates on the program. Young people in the Islands are encouraged to use Facebook to communicate with YCV RFB program by joining the “Vanuatu Youth Business Toktok” group forum to share challenges and opportunities in doing business in Vanuatu.
YCV would like to acknowledge Oxfam in Vanuatu for the funding support and all the stakeholders that have supported YCV and Mathias achieved his dream.