Women showcase their work at Malaefatu Park

Hundreds of women from across Samoa took part in the South Pacific Business Development (S.P.B.D.) market day showcasing their hard work at Malaefatu Park on Friday morning.

This is the S.P.B.D.'s fifth year to showcase the successful ventures of their clients, with products ranging from handicrafts to food to clothes and shoes, fruits and vegetables, as well as pot plants. 

The cutting of the ribbon to mark the opening of the exhibition was done by S.P.B.D. President and Founder, Gregory Casagrande, and President and Owner of one of their major sponsors, Samoa Stationery and Books (S.S.A.B.), Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai.

Mr. Casagrande said the market exhibition is all about providing meaningful economic opportunities to women micro entrepreneurs all over Samoa.

"So the market day is a wonderful way to showcase the work and the products that hundreds of our ladies are producing across Samoa.

"It gives them the opportunity to come here under all the big tents in the big city to show the ladies and to demonstrate what they are capable of doing and how their businesses are going," he said.

Mr. Casagrande added about 7,000 women have micro financing loans with S.P.B.D.

"Our goal is to help empower women especially in rural villages to help them start small and keep them generating businesses so they can work their way up and pursue their own dreams and ambitions in life.

"So they can achieve extra income for the betterment of themselves and their families so they can build their savings, so they can invest in their homes and so that they can have one wonderful healthy homes.

"And so they can make sure that their children get a proper education and all up to a tertiary education if that’s their aspiration," he said.

One of the women at the showcase, Loretta Leota, said the work of S.P.B.D. for the women of Samoa is important, especially for women who don't have formal employment. 

"This is so great because as an unemployed person, it's great to have something small like this to make sure that even though I stay home, I have something that is generating money," she said.

"Although it has its slow days but even with small purchases, it covers all the effort, for me at least," said the 24-year-old.

The mother of two from Siumu said the opportunity given by S.P.B.D. pushes the women to enhance their creativity to put up a business for the betterment of their families.

"Being a creative person can get you a lot of opportunities as well as various blessings from the Lord, and staying positive.

"Because we have to start somewhere, we start small and we eventually will end up with bigger rewards through hard work and up to improve the economy of our own country as well."

Loretta was the only one of the Siumu Center that participated in the Market Exhibition but she had only joined a few weeks ago where she loaned $1,250 tala from S.P.B.D. and is now paying $30 tala per week for 52 weeks.

Her block includes flowers made of traditional siapo fabric, lopa earrings and necklaces, creative pots for plants as well as vegetable plants and fruits of the plantation.

"To me, my loan is worth it. Even if the percentage paid is a lot but to me, it’s worth everything.

"They offer savings and insured and so to me it’s worth it because if it wasn’t for S.P.B.D., I would not have been able to stay home and still be able to earn, from the equipment for the business, from this money."

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.  

Mr. Casagrande said he is very proud of his 32 teams across Upolu and Savaii, under the leadership of Luapene Lefau. Over 7,000 micro entrepreneurs have micro loans with S.P.B.D. Samoa.

"We are so happy to be able to showcase the works and the efforts of our ladies; they’re making an extraordinary job," he said.

The S.P.B.D. is the largest micro-finance provider in the South Pacific.

It is a network of micro-finance institutions working in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, with a mission to improve the quality of life of underprivileged families by providing them meaningful economic opportunity to help lift them permanently out of poverty. 

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