President remains at helm, two new faces on Chamber leadership
The Samoa Chamber of Commerce is ready for another year with President, Jennifer Ula Fruean, remaining at the helm, and a female dominated executive voted in.
Ms. Fruean is joined by Vice President, Seulupe Michelle MacDonald, Secretary, Shorley Mariner and Treasurer, Asiata Alex Brunt.
The Executive Council officers are Tuiaopo Andrew Ah Liki, Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai and Tom Hogarth.
Chief executive officer Lemauga Hobart Vaai said 2019 will be another year of maintaining momentum and developing more opportunities for the private sector to grow.
He said he was amazed at the turnout for the annual general meeting on Monday evening, which filled the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Hotel conference room, and the number of people putting themselves forward to sit on the executive.
“We want to make sure as much as possible that the process is transparent,” Lemauga said. This year, as in the last two years, the Electoral Commission came on board to supervise the leadership elections.
“We’ve gone away from having our auditors come and scrutinize the election ballots, because our auditors are also our members. There is a conflict there.”
From the opening of the ballot box to the validity of the nominations, the commission handled the entire process, and counted the vote before the membership.
“We had a very tight vote, and now we have two new council members who have never been on the council before,” Lemauga said. Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Stationery and Books, and Tom Hogarth is the General Manager of Transam Samoa Limited.
Next week the Council gets straight to work consulting with Government, and then will take some time for orientation before their first official meeting in mid-April.
Chamber membership continues to grow, Lemauga said. The 2018 annual report says there are 396 members, not to mention the members of the associated organizations: Women in Business Development Incorporated, Businesses of Salafai Association and back from a four year break, the Samoa Hotels Association.
“There is lot more interest in the membership, we had a huge turnout,” he said.
“I guess ownership of the membership has grown, and it’s a challenge for us to keep on looking for opportunities for the private sector, keep advocating for issues with our government to support the private sector.”