Thirty-four-year-old Rineesha Mahadeo operates and owns her very own pharmacy in Rakiraki, known as ICare Pharmacy Pte Ltd.
She opened her pharmacy in April last year and has four staff members who assist her.
She is the only local female qualified pharmacist in the Ra town.
Sunbiz interviewed Ms Mahadeo to talk about her business.
How many staff have you employed?
There are three employees’ onsite, all female and one male off site who assists in overall pharmacy operations.
The three onsite employees are residents of Rakiraki and work as pharmacy assistants and cashiers. They were selected carefully in an interview process.
The idea was to employ females who are currently not receiving assistance from the Government and are breadwinners in their families. One employee is a single mother; and another is a 20-year-old diabetic who also looks after her sickly mother.
They are trained within the pharmacy through presentations, written exams and being involved hands on during special screenings or promotions held by the pharmacy.
How has business been?
Since the start of business, the monthly target is to keep the sales: purchases ratio as 60:40.
This was not feasible in some months keeping in mind the start-up cost and the business being new in the market.
However, the business has been able to meet all its expenses.
What are some challenges you faced as a female entrepreneur?
I have had a hand full of challenges plus ones I personally face as a female entrepreneur.
People in Rakiraki are not used to ‘female run businesses’.
They are used to dealing with male business owners. So it was different especially for the older generation especially males to accept new businesses led and operated by females.
People still underestimate females especially when it comes to making major decisions.
Rakiraki has limited resources e.g. not having a Fiji National Provident Fund branch/ ANZ bank branch.
However, I have realised that teaming up with like-minded and the right people in the community helps even when resources are limited.
Flooding in Rakiraki is quite common and loss of business on those days has to be accounted for.
How have you kept a healthy competition with other pharmacies?
Competition is with only one other pharmacy in Rakiraki and other retail pharmacies in Ba and Tavua.
To keep them above bar their provide services only exclusive to them when compared to the other pharmacy in Rakiraki:
■ Ear piercing;
■Total Cholesterol, Uric acid (Gout), Sugar, and Blood Pressure test;
Wide range of available Complementary and Herbal medications for those who are not comfortable with chemically made medications and want more natural treatment;
■Wide range of generic and branded medications which are reasonably priced i.e. both prescription and over the counter medication;
■Compound extemporaneous mixtures on doctors request such as creams for psoriasis and
■Provide free NCD screening (Two screenings done in August and November last year within eight months by Kunjal Nairs Weight Management Clinic).
During the first screening in August we analysed the results and noted that out of the 50 people screened more than 50 per cent showed signs of being overweight/ obese as well as high blood sugar. The second screening was more focused on advising people on different treatment options available and lifestyle management on their part.
What measures have you taken to avoid risk?
Small market with limited capital activity especially for a new business is risky. Monthly profit/loss is monitored closely.
Cyclone season is risky for operations especially in terms of flooding etc. No overstocking is done.
Keep enough of the medications which are in demand only,
Use FIFO (first in first out) method which ensures whichever medication was shelved first is sold/used first before purchasing new stock of the same medication.
Also pharmacies are located on a higher level where flood waters do not reach.
Fire insurance to commence in April 2020 since pharmacy is attached to adjacent buildings which poses a risk of fire spreading.
Also NFA certified and staff undergo fire safety training.
How have you contributed towards the town’s economy?
Other ways the locally owned business has contributed toward their community ranges from organising free check-up clinics, donations and buys locally.
ICare Pharmacy buys locally produced honey and virgin coconut oil for reselling in the pharmacy from two residents of Rakiraki whose source of income is from these products.
Motto: “Give with pure intentions,
Rineesha Mahadeo (middle) pose with her staff at her ICare Pharmacy in Rakiraki.