Ho­tels Hope


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,

Photo: Su­sana Hirst-Tuilau

Ri­nee­sha Ma­hadeo (mid­dle) pose with her staff at her ICare Phar­macy in Raki­raki.

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