Women empowered by micro-finance business
Microfinance organisation, South Pacific Business Development (S.P.B.D.), has been credited for empowering and turning around the fortunes of women in Samoa.
Local entrepreneur, Tuli Stowers, said she is grateful to the S.P.B.D. for coming to the assistance of women such as her, through the provision of financial assistance to support her business as well as make some savings.
“I am grateful to S.P.B.D for offering this financial assistance to women like me, though in terms of loans, we had learnt to maintain the operations of our business, manage our finances in not only being able to ensure our weekly repayments are met, but also to be able to save some money on a weekly basis,” she said.
A $300 tala loan in 2008 to set up a small vegetable garden was the first support Mrs Stowers received from the S.P.B.D., leading to the expansion of her business and the securing of a $32,000 tala S.M.E. loan, which she is currently paying off.
Her products include the sale of bouquets ranging from $20 for a small arrangement to $60 for a large bouquet with overall sales totalling over $2,000 tala.
Mrs Stowers said her savings together with the S.M.E. loan has enabled her family to purchase a vehicle.
“These savings together with the S.M.E. loan amounts have assisted greatly with the expenses of our housing extensions and purchase of a family vehicle,” she added. “My leadership skills have also grown with the years I have been with S.P.B.D., as I am able to share my experiences with the other members of our group.”
In an appeal to others who have received support from the S.P.B.D., Mrs Stowers said they should manage their finances better so they can take care of their families.
“I challenge them to strive to do better and provide better living conditions and manage their finances properly, so they are able to take care of their families and put their children and grandchildren through school.”
According to the S.P.B.D. General Manager Luapene Lefau, their long history of association with women going back 20 years has put them in a good position to provide essential financial support.
“For 20 years, we have seen what they can accomplish. Our members want to improve their lives and their families’ lives. They want healthier housing, better nutrition, and better education for their children. They want the next generation to have a better life,” she said. “We are so proud to provide the financing, support and training so they can get the tools they need to succeed.”
Since the launching of the microfinance organisation in 2000, it has had an impact on the lives of over 70,000 women and disbursed over 225,000 small to micro loans to low-income entrepreneurs in the South Pacific.