Malieta Inoke advances financial inclusion with Tonga’s first eCommerce platform
Tongan Australia Awards Women Leading and Influencing (WLI) alumna Malieta Inoke is a champion for financial inclusion and the economic empowerment of all women through enterprise and career advancement.
As Tongan Country Coordinator for the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), in late 2022, Malieta and her team officially launched the country’s first eCommerce platform, The BeeHive.
Proudly, Malieta believes the platform will help drive the growth and sustainability of the country’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, which represents a growing number of women.
Around the same time, Malieta joined the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Christine Clarke, and Chief Housing Officer of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Victorina Leger, for a panel discussion hosted by the Australian High Commission in Tonga on women’s leadership and career diversity.
Sharing valuable lessons with aspiring women leaders, Malieta revealed that taking part in the WLI Women’s Developmental Leadership Program gave her the space to uncover where her passion for supporting MSMEs in Tonga came from.
She reflects on her participation in WLI, what the launch of The BeeHive means for Tonga, and how advancing women’s financial and economic independence will help to develop the Pacific region.
[Pictured: WLI alumna Malieta Inoke]
Launching Tonga’s first eCommerce platform, The BeeHive
With the launch of The BeeHive, in partnership with Digicel Tonga, Malieta explains that Tongans can now trade goods and services with ease and security online.
“The BeeHive platform will be a gateway for Tonga and the Pacific region to adopt technology and eCommerce - ensuring the region is abreast with global economic trends and to help drive the growth and sustainability of the MSME sector,” she explains.
As the digital market is large and growing, Malieta believes that “women must be enabled to participate both as business owners and business consumers, and profit equally as men”.
Having grown up in Tonga and travelled to The Australian National University in Canberra to earn her Master of Professional Accounting through the Australia Awards, she believes that “money in the hands of women is well spent” and benefits families, communities, and the economy.
“Therefore, it is critical for governments to invest in women innovators and entrepreneurs to build the nascent eCommerce space,” Malieta explains.
[Pictured: Malieta (left) joins Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls, Christine Clarke (centre), and Ministry of Infrastructure Chief Housing Officer, Victorina Leger (right)]
WLI enables Malieta to unlock her passion and empower emerging women leaders
While encouraging young women to follow their career paths and hone their crafts, whatever they may be, Malieta reflected that her participation in the WLI program was “instrumental on my professional and personal development”.
Passing lessons learned to students joining the panel discussion on women’s leadership and career diversity from architecture, finance and other typically male-dominated sectors, Malieta highlighted the importance of “having the right mentor” and “the right network to guide you through your journey”.
Discovering where her passion for financial inclusion came from was also an important part of Malieta’s leadership journey. WLI provided Malieta the space to realise that this stemmed from her upbringing and watching her parents work hard to create economic security.
“For a woman to be truly free, they ought to be financially independent!” Malieta reflects, “You can only grow once you are out of your comfort zone.”
But it’s not just the business and enterprise sphere that Malieta hopes to encourage and see more women involved in.
“Women need to get involved in politics; they must master their trait, whatever discipline it may be,” she says.
To the emerging women leaders in her sphere, Malieta implores, “Adjust and leverage the small networks to become influential beings in our society!”
The BeeHive platform was developed with support from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)'s Pacific Digital Economy Programme (PDEP). PDEP is jointly implemented by UNCDF, UNCTAD and UNDP, and is supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Learn more about the Women’s Developmental Leadership Program that Malieta took part in.