Stronger in 2023: How SEWF was the biggest dare for Donna Wate
Donna Wate is the Founder of Mere Care, a social enterprise that offers medical GP services, women’s health education, partnership and promotional activities for women in Honiara, Solomon Islands. An SEWF Community Hub is where like-minded social entrepreneurs and changemakers will come together to connect with each other during SEWF23. Donna in 2023 will be hosting a Community Hub and in this interview, we caught up with her to learn more about her work and what inspires her.
What was the “aha!” moment that inspired you to build Mere Care?
There are a few things that transpired which made me begin Mere Care. It wasn’t so much an “aha” moment but it was more of a series of events where I followed my unique belief and path. Firstly, it stemmed from complex, personal living experiences, a mixture of good and bad from new motherhood to health. And these made me want to find a balance in entrepreneurship. Next were career issues that made me desire a system change. I wanted to see a change in the approach to the complex and never-ending health situations we had locally. And finally, I needed to have an understanding and tackle my own financial dilemma, hoping to come out financially free.
What have been some of the success stories and highlights from Mere Care?
A few include being the runner-up for a grant under the inaugural Yher Pacific Accelerator Programme for women entrepreneurs in 2018. That was when the Mere Care brand was born, to start a mobile clinic. We are still searching for innovative breakthroughs and partnerships. The rich networks we have forged with groups, programmes and people both locally and globally are also some of our highlights, including the Ka Hao Indigenous Ecommerce Online Course and capacity building, the Blackbird Giants mentorship programme for tech solutions most recently. And of course, the SEWF mission which is very much ours as well.
Speaking of SEWF, how was your experience at SEWF22 and did it inspire you to decide to host a Community Hub in 2023?
SEWF was the biggest dare! First of its kind and the most difficult recent undertaking in my entrepreneurship journey. I fought a lot of negativity from myself and my people to even make it there and back. I really appreciate everyone who supported me, especially the White Box team (SEWF22 Co-hosts, Brisbane, Australia). So yes! It has definitely inspired me to host a Community Hub in 2023.
That’s amazing! What are some steps that can be taken to support more social enterprises in the Solomon Islands?
Firstly, there needs to be a better understanding of the term “social enterprise.” Next is to continue championing educational initiatives and activities for the local community. And Finally, we need to keep pushing the social enterprise movement forward, together with a local team, so as to achieve a national policy that will favour the social enterprise ecosystem in the near future.