The Small Businesses Enterprise Center has a new chairperson in Tuiloma Sina Retzlaff who succeeds Fiona Ey who held the position for 12 years.
According to the new appointee, she was offered the position of Samoa Country Manager for A.P.T.C. which she turned down.
“I didn’t turn it down because of the position of S.B.E.C. Chairperson, no, the position was offered and it was a very difficult decision to make. But taking up the role would’ve meant that I essentially stop doing the development work that I love to do. But all these voluntary work that I do is who I am,” she added.
“This is the first that this role would be localized. The role is elevated in a new phase of A.P.T.C. and it would require a lot of commitment and part of what was required of me I just wasn’t able to give up such as my role in Chamber of Commerce.”
Tuiloma said her role at the Chamber of Commerce opened up a lot of opportunities for the private sector to engage with the Government and she did not want to give that up.
“I have been recently appointed as the Chairperson of S.B.E.C. This role would also have been one of the roles that I would not have been able to take up if I had taken the A.P.T.C. country director. I’m an accredited mediator and that too is a new initiative for Samoa, it is compulsory now for civil cases to be mediated and again I find that a really important initiative that I like to be a part of.”
She also commended the work of the late C.E.O. Peseta Margaret Malua and her predecessor.
“S.B.E.C. is where it is at now because of their hard work. Fiona and Peseta took S.B.E.C. from much of its development stage to where it is at now.”
Going forward Tuiloma said she looked forward to taking the organisation to the next level by expanding on its work at the microenterprise level.
“It addresses the access to finance issues of small medium micro level businesses. It addresses that access to finance issue, it helps micro-businesses to address that issue of not having collateral for the banks - where banks want collateral because it’s a loan guarantee scheme. The model has been proven to work the independent assessment of S.B.E.C. over the years have shown the positive results it has on Samoa’s economy and the development of these small micro level businesses.”
Acknowledging the support of the New Zealand government towards the work of the S.B.E.C., Tuiloma said some businesses have graduated to the formal sector.
“The main supporter of S.B.E.C. over the years has been the Government of New Zealand and there is a new design written up for S.B.E.C. that would be seen in the next five years. So its transitioning into a new design and it hopes to improve its products that it offers to small businesses and its services as well.”