South Pacific Business Development (S.P.B.D.) Microfinance staged a Market Place Exhibition yesterday.
For the third year in a row, the Exhibition was to showcase the successful ventures of its clients.
Over 200 women clients from both Upolu and Savaii of S.P.B.D. displayed a wide range of products, most of which they had made themselves, with the help of micro loans from S.P.B.D.
The exhibition was housed at a central location in Apia, Samoa’s capital where the colourful display and enticing aromas attracted a large number of visitors.
As the visitors poured in, the products saw brisk sales which was immensely gratifying to the women entrepreneurs. The event drew the attention of the media and received good coverage, with the local media putting in a special word for SPBD’s efforts.
This was a unique opportunity for the members of S.P.B.D. to come together, to meet, interact and learn from the experiences of other members. The event was instrumental in strengthening their bonds with each other and with S.P.B.D. besides helping them in developing their marketing skills and securing new clients.
The market was a busy, happy space as many people stopped by to sample some of the delicious foods at the food stands and buy some exclusive handicraft items, lovingly made and cheerfully sold by women who were enjoying every minute of the day.
The exhibition highlighted the diverse types of businesses the Samoan women have set up including the production and sales of vegetables, snacks, fruits, traditional clothes such as lava-lavas, potted plants, decorations and jewellery.
Koreti Ioane, a woman entrepreneur from Vailele Maugafiafia Centre, shared that she had been unemployed when she first joined S.P.B.D. 8 years ago. She used her first loan to operate a banana chips business selling them to the people within and around her village. Koreti has managed to expand her entrepreneurial skills in elei printing and operating a sewing shop.
Before with her chips business, her earnings was $300 a week, now with her current business, she is making $8000 a week selling her products overseas and supplying Farmer Joe Supermarket.
Koreti, says her business has enabled her to improve the standard of living of her family and to provide better education opportunities to her children.
Happy with the encouraging response to the initiative, Gregory Casagrande, the President and Founder of S.P.B.D Microfinance, said: “S.P.B.D. has over seven thousand micro entrepreneurs spread across all of Samoa.
“This event intends not only to display the wide array of goods, wares and services our clients offer but also to showcase their courageous, eventful journeys and their perseverance which carried them forth.
It is such a joy to watch the steady increase in their self-esteem and self-confidence with the upturn in their fortunes, brought about by their dedicated efforts and facilitated by our loans. S.P.B.D. has plans to roll out such exhibitions on a regular basis in the future”.
For Taeao Siitia of Neiafu Tai Centre, they were able to raise $450 of sales from their oranges, Samoan koko and handicraft.
“I am so thankful for SPBD because they teach Samoan ladies how to start a small business and expand it. It gives uneducated women the opportunity to increase their earnings. The young women in my village are very interested in participating in this program.
We are also grateful to the company for hosting this market exhibition which has enabled us to earn this much in just 2 hours.” she said.
Ajay Verma, General Manager, SPBD Samoa, said, “The exhibition has effectively brought the limelight to the ‘never say die’ attitude of the women entrepreneurs of Samoa. All that these exceptional women needed was a nudge in the right direction, training on setting up of and management of small business and ready access to finance.
Their initiative, determination to make a difference and sheer hard work has done the rest.
Our association with them is a matter of pride for us. Today I salute the spirit of these successful entrepreneurs and enjoin upon them to pass on this message of empowerment to their fellow women.
Empowered women is what every family and nation should strive for because herein lie the seeds of a better, more prosperous future for all of us.”