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Kiribati Widow Finds Success in Small Business  

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She a 55-year-old widow who gets around on crutches.

Because of diabetes complications, Kabuaa Teubwaitoi’s left leg had to be amputated.

But that doesn’t stop Kabuaa running two businesses and serving faithfully in the Church. In fact, you could say it makes her even more determined.

Kabuaa serves in the Teaoraereke 2nd Ward as a teacher in Relief Society – a calling which she loves.

Her two businesses - a small roadside retail store and a co-op store where customers bring their homemade crafts and goods for her to sell—has been the key to Kabuaa’s self-reliance journey.

It began nearly ten years ago, when in 2009 Kabuaa was inspired to start her own business after she attended a self-reliance class facilitated by the Church. It was there where she learnt how to start and run a small business.

As fortune has it, she is blessed to own a piece of land right on the main road in Tarawa where she runs her businesses side-by-side.

The co-op where her customers, both male and female, who come from the outer islands, bring their homemade crafts and goods for her to sell—Kabuaa adds to the price of each item and makes a profit as the item is sold.

Kabuaa ‘s encouraging influence is also helping other women on the small island make money to help support their families.

In spite of the dusty conditions surrounding the handicraft store,  it is kept spotless. Goods for sale include everything from  model canoes and eel catchers to brightly coloured cotton blouses  and clothing—to jewellery made out of seashells. Also for sale is homemade sour toddy – beneka – a popular liquid stored in recycled bottles that locals use to marinade their fish.

Overheads are kept as low as possible; there is only one employee, a store manager, while Kabuaa herself takes care of her KAB.T Handicraft store. There is an annual business license fee to pay and an electricity bill.

Kabuaa considers it a wonderful blessing to be self-reliant, and, like President Thomas S. Monson, she is happy to share with others what she learns.

While serving as a Relief Society president she often met women who had little to no money with which to buy the necessities of life. She actively encouraged the Relief Society sisters to participate in the self-reliance course she had taken. She also spoke to non-members in the community and invited women to come and join the LDS self-reliance business classes. Many of them were very shy at first, and were timid about joining the course, but Kabuaa helped them overcome their inhibitions.

Her husband passed away years ago, yet she feels very blessed that her five grown children keep an eye on her. She feels very fortunate to still be ding her own cooking at home and sometimes she prepares a special dish from breadfruit, which she often sells.

Kabuaa is very grateful for the gospel. Although she was raised a Catholic, Kabuaa took on her husband’s Protestant religion when they married. Then—for 11 years she met with the members of the Jehovah Witness church. But—deep inside herself she felt that something important was missing.

One day she spotted the Latter-day Saint missionaries walking down the street. She stopped them and invited the young elders to come and visit her if they would tell her about their Church. She was filled with peace when she realized what had been missing from her spiritual life . . . it was the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ – and now she has it! Kabuaa was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 2000. She was keen to have all her children join the Church; to her absolute delight . . . they did!