Empowering Women Entrepreneurs

8 Mar 2024

Vanuatu's Lapita Café's Journey to HACCP Certification

A widely respected community leader, Votausi Mackenzie-Reur wears many hats. One she dons proudly is that of founder of Lapita Café, an innovative and fast-growing food manufacturing and catering company in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Lapita Café is breaking barriers and reshaping the culinary landscape in Vanuatu. This International Women's Day, Lapita Café stands as a testament of advancing women's economic empowerment in the Pacific.

Lapita Café, the pioneering gluten-free cassava flour producer in Vanuatu, has achieved a milestone by obtaining the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification. The journey, however, was no walk in the park. Battling the aftermath of cyclones that hampered construction and overcoming numerous challenges, Lapita Café emerged triumphant.

Watch Votausi Mackenzie-Reur's interview as she talks about Lapita Cafe and why the HACCP certification was crucial for her business.

Ms. Mackenzie-Reur’s commitment to excellence led Lapita Café to become the first gluten-free cassava flour producer in Vanuatu with HACCP certification, setting a high standard for others to follow. The certification ensures the highest food safety standards, making Lapita Café’s products not only delicious but also safe for consumers.

"Lapita Cafe's journey to be able to obtain its HACCP certification started in 2021, so it's been a long time. But we were thankful to PACER Plus because they came in and were able to fund our HACCP certification towards the end of 2023. We're immensely grateful to PACER Plus for supporting us in this," said Ms. Mackenzie-Reur.

The success story didn’t unfold in isolation. The Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus, in collaboration with the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Australia Vanuatu Governance for Growth (GfG) program, played a pivotal role by engaging Vanuatu consulting firm Quality Solutions to develop food safety systems and coordinate a third-party audit in late 2023, a process that added an extra layer of credibility to Lapita Café's operations.

PACER Plus's support, facilitated through VCCI and Quality Solutions, extends beyond Lapita Café. Four local manufacturers in Vanuatu are currently benefiting from ongoing initiatives to obtain similar international certifications, enhancing Vanuatu's export advantage.

PACER Plus recognises the important role women play in economic development and our capacity building programs to support women entrepreneurs like Ms. Votausi Mackenzie-Reur of Lapita Cafe in Vanuatu.

The PACER Plus Implementation Unit (PPIU) recognises the important role women play in economic development and our capacity building programs. Supporting women entrepreneurs like Ms. Mackenzie-Reur is a testament to this. Gender is mainstreamed across PPIU's operational and governance functions and across PPIU's work programme.

Lapita Café stands tall, not just as a business success but as a beacon of empowerment for women entrepreneurs. Ms. Mackenzie-Reur's resilience and her company's achievements underscore the importance of investing in women to accelerate progress and foster economic growth in the Pacific.