Community Economic Development Facilitator

Project Description

Fiji is a small island nation steeped in proud tradition. Despite a century of colonization, the country has maintained strong indigenous identities and cultural practices. Fiji’s lands remain fertile, its oceans full of fish, and its villagers born into communal systems that still guide and support them through their lives.

Throughout history, most Fijians have lived within their means in a subsistence-oriented, bartering-based society. Today, the importance of money is surging, leading to a transition as people adapt traditional mindsets and behaviors to accommodate contemporary capitalism.

This is where Peace Corps Volunteers offer support. Fiji has the resources to see an economic growth that is shared broadly, but there are a variety of enabling skills that our government partners have confirmed are not as consistent within the indigenous context: financial literacy and money management, recordkeeping, project design, risk management, monitoring and evaluation, and business development, to name a few. Volunteers are uniquely positioned to support the bolstering of these skills.

Nearly all Volunteers are placed in rural villages. Their goal is to support community organizations—such as women’s and youth groups—as they improve their project design and management skills, and to support individuals and families as they build income-generating activities and related money management skills. To accomplish this, Volunteers generally follow this sequence:
1. Upon arrival to their villages, Volunteers spend several months proactively learning about and integrating into their communities. In an intentional way, they settle into local rhythms, joining their neighbors’ daily activities, such as farming, fishing, washing, cooking, and drinking kava. With village counterparts (such as the mayor and leaders of women’s and youth groups), they also co-lead participatory activities focused on developing relationships.
2. In time, the objective of those collaborative participatory activities shifts toward uncovering village needs and development priorities. With counterparts, Volunteers co-plan and co-facilitate community trainings on topics such as project management, income-generating activities, and financial literacy.
3. As needed and appropriate, Volunteers scaffold their communities’ efforts to find and solicit support from the myriad of government ministries and NGOs that provide relevant resources.
4. Finally, Volunteers and counterparts use coaching skills to support community members as they deepen and leverage their new abilities, cheerleading and celebrating successes along the way. Activities may include the development of cooperatives, communal projects, community savings groups, and an array of income-generating activities.

The focus of this approach is mutual learning and sustainable growth, and Volunteers generally do not take the lead in identifying priorities or implementing projects. The Peace Corps defines Volunteer success by the quality of community learning and initiative that they support, rather than the number or size of the projects they complete. For Volunteers who arrive to Fiji fresh out of the achievement-driven pulse of many U.S. colleges and jobs, the quiet pace and hands-off approach of Peace Corps’ development model can take some adjustment. Rather than managing much themselves, Volunteers support the bolstering of a suite of foundational economic and organizational skills that, when understood deeply and wielded with diligence over time, can be transformational.

This job begins and ends with heartfelt integration into rural, conservative, unhurried villages. Volunteers’ first priority is to be engaged neighbors and friends, building genuine connections with the people around them. Along the way, there are vibrant opportunities for Volunteers to leverage their business skills and passions, catalyzing the economic advancement of the community they come to call home.

COVID-19 Volunteer Activities

As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business management

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:
• At least one year of community service or volunteer experience that included individual capacity building through teaching, mentoring, or coaching adults, especially women and older youth
• Experience working in grassroots development or community organizing that involved forming and motivating groups of adults
• Experience writing proposals and using strong project design and management skills
• Experience advising or coaching entrepreneurs in the development of income-generating activities, including such tasks as market research, opportunity identification, feasibility studies, and business planning
• Experience managing core business activities, such as marketing, sales, bookkeeping, and quality control
• Experience coaching individuals in applying personal money management skills (i.e. saving, budgeting, financial goal setting, evaluating borrowing options), potentially through a community savings group or microfinance initiative
• Education, experience, and/or interest in land or aquatic farm management and agribusiness
• Interest in mastering a local language and working within cultural norms
• Interest in working collaboratively in a rural, traditional iTaukei village, with the resilience to persist in the face of challenges that a U.S. American may face working in a conservative, collectivistic society

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Fiji has three official languages: Vosa Vakaviti, Fijian Hindi, and English. Volunteer communities are almost exclusively in rural iTaukei villages, where community members speak one of the many dialects of Vosa Vakaviti (some of which are dramatically different!). During Pre-Service Training, trainees study the primary Bauan dialect of Vosa Vakaviti, potentially receiving a bit of exposure to the dialect of their future communities. Upon arriving to their community, Volunteers continue their language studies throughout service, through self-directed study with the support of a village-based tutor and the coaching of Peace Corps’ Language and Culture Coordinator.

Volunteers’ ability to integrate and serve effectively in Fiji hinges on their language mastery. As such, it is a professional expectation that Volunteers take ownership of and prioritize their language learning, actively building their skills across the length of their service.

Living Conditions

For many, the mention of Fiji conjures images of pristine waters and idyllic island living, and Fiji is indeed a country of shimmering beauty. At the same time, the daily reality for most Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) is textured and complex.

The indigenous Fijian village context is central to most PCVs’ experience. Villagers often place great value on hierarchy, Christianity, and traditional gender roles. The Peace Corps’ approach to development asks PCVs to embrace these norms with curiosity and respect, even when it involves such acts as wearing restrictive clothing in hot, humid weather, conforming to gender expectations, or regularly attending church. Fijians are often playful—“cheeky,” as locals say—but (like all of us) also carry biases that can be hurtful. PCVs’ professional success hinges upon their ability to build the cultural sensitivity, maturity, and interpersonal skills to navigate these elements with grace, while also respectfully but vibrantly sharing who they are with their communities.

All PCVs live with a host family for ten weeks during Pre-Service Training (PST). After PST, PCVs are assigned to their two-year communities. With few exceptions, PCVs live in rural villages on the large island of Viti Levu, usually in an independent home that the village loans to Peace Corps. PCVs’ communities and homes vary across a number of factors, including:
• Location: Locations range from mountainous interiors, to coastal plains, to swampy river delta regions. Few PCV communities are next to sandy beaches.
• Housing type: While PCVs live in a variety of house types, most are fairly small and made from corrugated tin.
• Electricity: Some PCVs’ homes do not have consistent electricity. In these cases, Peace Corps provides a solar panel that can usually power one light or charge a phone.
• Phone/data coverage: Some PCVs do not have phone coverage within their home, though there are usually spots within walking distance where they can make calls or check email.
• Water: Some communities experience periodic shortages of fresh water, requiring PCVs to save and store water to use during those periods.
• Access to market towns: Few villages hold more than basic “canteen” shops, and market towns may be up to three hours away by public transit (buses, trucks, or vans).

Here are four other important elements of PCVs’ lived experiences:
• Floor-sitting: Sitting cross-legged on woven mats is a culturally important part of village life, and Volunteers do so for hours at a time on many days.
• Food: While Fiji has an abundance of food, village diets are heavy in root starches, fish, canned meat, processed noodles, fried dough, and other oily foods, often featuring little variety and few vegetables. Peace Corps encourages PCVs to grow their own vegetable gardens.
• Religion: Fiji is a deeply religious society. While there are many religions throughout Fiji, Protestantism and Catholicism dominate in the villages where most PCVs live. Religion and culture are inextricably linked in Fiji, and Peace Corps encourages PCVs to engage in local religious activities as a part of their integration.
• Diversity: Hollywood stereotypes permeate many Fijians’ understandings of U.S. Americans, and PCVs who are of a non-majority racial, ethnic, or other group in the United States may encounter unwanted attention, even in the form of strong racial slurs. Fiji’s colonial history also contributed to a hierarchical sense of colorism that remains apparent today. In addition, anti-LGBTQIA+ sentiments can be common—particularly in the rural, conservative communities where PCVs serve—and many LGBTQIA+ PCVs choose not to reveal this identity to their communities during their service.

Peace Corps Fiji works intentionally to cultivate trust-based relationships and an inclusive, supportive environment for all PCVs, staff, and community members. Validating the lived experiences of our entire Peace Corps community and striving toward equity is a priority.

Serving in Fiji

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Fiji: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Peace Corps Fiji heartily welcomes couples to apply to this program. There are cultural benefits to being married in Fiji, and couples have often had robust and successful services. Both partners must meet the qualifying skills to be Community Economic Empowerment Facilitators, and should possess a strong desire to work for the community and economic development of a rural Fijian village.

Couples live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training, and then have their own house together during service. Couples may be separated for in-service training events, which can last up to one week.

Couples serve in the same community within the same Peace Corps project, but are expected to develop unique work plans addressing different needs within their community. For example, one partner may be especially focused on the village youth and creating savings and loans groups, while the other may be more focused on the women’s group and supporting the growth of income-generating activities.

The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process recruiters and placement officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit:

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

Does this sound like the position for you?
Get started on your journey.

Apply Now

What Happens Next?

View Volunteer FAQs
The types of work Volunteers do are ultimately determined by the needs of host countries and the potential of a Volunteer to contribute to these needs and to the Peace Corps’ mission.
Learn about the application process
The most significant accomplishment will be the contribution you make to improve the lives of others. There are also tangible benefits, during and after service of joining in the Peace Corps.
More benefits from service
Our recruiters are here to help you! Whether you have a question about your application, requirements, or anything else, our recruiters have the answer. Chat live with them now!
Find a recruiter