Village entrepreneur’s humble beginnings
It matters not where you start, but rather, where you end up.
This much is true for business man, Seiuli Hini Kamisi from the village of Faleula. Starting off being a taxi driver, Seiuli knew there is more life has to offer. That mindset set him on the path to where he is today.
He is the proud owner of a umber of village businesses with his crown jewel being Faleula’s top bakery, Brother Sai’s store where he makes coconut and Chinese biscuits.
But where do we start with such a success story? Let’s try the very beginning.
“This business wasn’t easy in the beginning,” Seiuli told the Village Voice yesterday.
“I was the only one working for the family at the time and the money wasn’t too great. I was a Taxi driver and as I went along I met my wife and made a family so I thought that I should do a small shop.
“So we started with this small room as a shop and it was also our living space; that was 2009. I withdrew my $500 entitlement from the N.P.F. and then I started building.
“It wasn’t easy because I had to go around trying to find timber and tin to complete the house. That $500 from the N.P.F. also got us a few boxes of tin food, some snacks and other small things which we started selling.”
No matter how strong your drive is, there will always be small bumps along the way; but rather than let those bumps hinder his growth, Seiuli let it inspire him even more.
“One of the problems was that we had no back-up and a lot of our goods were going towards taking care of the children,” he said.
“So we opened a small biscuit house at the back with a small oven. It was only until 2012 when we started making a little bit of profit which went straight into restocking the store.
“We also managed to save a little bit of money so I started to think of other things that can help increase our profit. We wanted to really grow our business at that time.” Business plans after business plans; there was no way of stopping Seiuli from achieving his dreams.
“So I started to think of something for the village people, I wanted to give them some entertainment,” he said.
“So I tried opening a billiard house; I bought my first pool table that same year and then used the space near my shop. It was a big hit and we made a bit of money that. “It wasn’t too long before I could afford another pool table. So we started making good money with both the billiard house and the store. We managed to pay off all our debts that year.”
But as expected, the village entrepreneur ran into a few more bumps.
“The profit made from my two businesses at the time got me a fishing boat which took about $10,000,” Seiuli said.
“I started to fish and my profit increased quite a bit. Everything was going well until a few problems started to arise from my billiard business.
“People started to get a bit rowdy; people started to make so much noise. Guys would get drunk and start swearing out of happiness but it affected me because my children would hear those words.
“I started to think of changing that business even though I was making a bit of profit.”
But with every failure, Seiuli found a way to pick himself up again.
“We started to make pancakes to replace my billiard business in 2013,” he said.
“The pancakes were a big hit with the people especially on Sundays; it looked like an airport in front of my house. So I decided to get rid of the billiard business because people weren’t using their common sense.
“The money I made from baking was really good so I stuck with that. I then invested in extending the biscuit house and I bought another oven.”
Even with so many successful business ventures, Seiuli wanted more. “The profit from my bakery was really good and then I opened my own car wash,” he said.
“I then opened a similar business in Savaii. The moral of my life is that savings are very important. If you keep saving money until you have enough to buy what you want then buy it and save for something else.
“I started with just $500 and although I had problems, I never submitted to those problems. The only thing on my mind was to keep developing my business no matter how slow it goes.”
Even till this day, Seiuli has more dreams to come and according to him, you have to work and save for those dreams.
“I tell you it was nowhere close to being easy,” he said.
“I would wake up at Midnight then start making things to sell before working throughout the day until the evening when I can finally get some sleep. I would repeat that every day.
“I had so many struggles but I stuck to it all. I am still thinking of developing further. My next big plan is to build a resort in Savaii.”