Women micro-entrepreneurs from the rural areas were honoured yesterday at the 17th annual South Pacific Business Development (S.P.B.D.) Business Woman Awards.
The key note address was delivered by the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour, Lautafi Purcell, who congratulated all the women business owners present.
“I wish all the very best to all the businesses and their aspirations not only for today but also in the long term and remember as Gregory said earlier always keep the dream alive,” said Lautafi.
“Congratulations to all the award nominees as well as the award winners for this programme. I acknowledge and applaud the strength and the contribution of women in the development of our country and in all aspects of life.
“I am also confident of your commitment and perseverance to sustain the development of your businesses for the benefit of your families, church and communities. As I said to you last year ‘do not underestimate your great contribution to the economic development of Samoa’.
“I would also like to congratulate S.P.B.D. for organising this prestigious award programme and also to acknowledge their services and lending facility that caters for the development needs of women entrepreneurship.
“I understand men are also now considered for the development and establishment of micro and small businesses including community initiatives. However it is crucial, as beneficiaries that you honour your obligations under this arrangement.
“From my office yesterday I watched as the women who were displaying their market goods out the front of the government building, dancing clapping and singing and I thought to myself – that is a very good sign, it shows that something has been achieved and the women ought to celebrate their success.”
The shield award for Best Centre went to the Satitoa Tauatiai’i Aleipata centre with their President, Ioata Togafau, accepting their prize on their behalf.
“All glory and thanks goes to God for this honour of winning Best Centre. O lea matou te omai male igoa o Satitoa, O le mea foi lea matou te fia sola ai male mea atoa,” Ioata said proudly to the Samoa Observer.
“The Satitoa Aleipata centre was founded in 2012. It has been five years in the making. The fundraising that we do is for the welfare of our families, the community and the church as well as the young ones.
“I am very proud to say that this centre is representing our village which has always been a priority for us. We are thankful that we won first place, we praise God for everything he has done, he has given us everything and it was not easy to develop the centre.
“We try to develop the centre with the goal to help all mothers have a good future but also the children, the church and the community of Satitoa.”
The winner of the Small to Medium Enterprise Business Women was Maria Levi and Best Micro-business women went to Tutulu Meafou.
Following an early morning march of S.P.B.D. members and centre managers to the Tuutuuileloloto, the ceremony began with a welcome by Luapene Lefau.
The opening remarks were given by S.P.B.D. President Gregory Casagrande.