A stepping-stone for youth2 min readReading Time: 2 minutes
Most people look forward to slowing down when they get into their 50’s, but Anita Vaafusuaga did just the opposite. In 2012, she seized the opportunity to turn a lifelong vision into reality, and founded DNA 1st Solution with her late husband Denis. Their aim was to create employment opportunities for vulnerable youth, getting them off the street and into paid employment.
It’s a family affair for the Vaafusuagas, as her four children and their Uncle Greg help run the business. From their warehouse on Onehunga’s Hill Street, they offer contract packaging, third party logistics and staffing agency solutions. They also offer jobs and training for youth with disabilities, and 95% of the staff are female.
Employees are encouraged to use their time at DNA as a stepping-stone; developing good employment habits while they earn money and prepare for the next step in their career. At any one time, there could be up to 30 workers in the warehouse, and another 30 out on recruitment placements.
Anita’s own struggles as a 13 year-old school leaver have influenced her drive to make a difference in the lives of these young people, most of whom arrive with no experience or qualifications. In recognition for her tireless work, she was a finalist as a Board and Management Women of Influence in 2020 and later received a Kiwibank Local Hero Award in 2021.
Anita says, “I’ve always loved working with youth, but it has definitely been an interesting journey. I’ve fallen over many times, but I had to pick myself up. You always hear people say ‘never give up’ – but it really is true. Whatever you set out to do in life, just keep at it and never give up.”
Gene Vaafusuaga, company sales and marketing manager, says most of their business has been through referrals from friends and word of mouth, but he hopes to create further connections in the community to help generate more employment opportunities and additional jobs for their youth.
“Mum has been changing lives for years, but has always been humble about the amazing work she does.”
For more info go to dna1stsolution.co.nz, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 636 0356
(Anita Vaafusuaga has turned her vision into reality)