Samoa Business Network expanding
The Samoa Business Network is expanding beyond nibbles and networking, recently appointed chairperson, Taliaoa John Loau, told the Samoa Observer during a visit to the country.
Now in its seventh year, the diaspora focused business group wants to grow and be of more service to its members, potential members and Samoan business community.
Taliaoa said the group is looking to engage interns from Auckland’s universities and liaise with local businesses to sign group deals and discounts for its members
This year it will also connect formally with the Samoa Chamber of Commerce under a memorandum of understanding, and work to connect new and potential businesses with other Samoan owned companies.
“We are looking to make our organisation more beneficial to our members, not just a place where you can come and have nibbles, talk about what you’re doing and cross your fingers and hope maybe we do business together,” he said.
That includes potential future members too, he added.
With its members covering the entire spectrum of the business world and experience levels, Taliaoa said he hopes to share a network of knowledge with young people who need a head start in their industry.
It would be a three to six month programme, rotating through the different companies in the network based on the intern’s interest.
Using the Pacific Business Hub in Manukau (a shared office and co-working space), students from the business schools or in industries represented in the Hub can spend time with a range of companies, all owned by Pacific people, and get a feel for how they operate.
“That collective experience and knowledge we have, you can’t get that in a classroom,” he said.
“We believe this a key space we can immediately fill without it costing very much.”
Several Pacific Business Hub members have experience with interns already, he added.
Taliaoa grew up in the United States of America and spent 14 years in the military service, in intelligence. After moving to New Zealand in 2011, he started his own consulting firm – N5 Consulting – working with overseas companies to review their mergers in New Zealand.
He said he will bring many of the skills and initiatives he uses in his own work to the Samoa Business Network, especially when it comes to getting collective buying power for its members.
Taliaoa said he is talking to the Warehouse Group, Samoa Airways and even the Strata Lounge of Auckland Airport to see what group benefits they could offer S.B.N. members. It will be especially helpful for small businesses struggling with procurement, which is often cheaper and more convenient for larger companies.
Most members are considered ‘small to medium’ enterprises, with numbers of staff ranging from just one to a dozen. That makes it expensive for them to buy business resources.
“It’s a gap that S.B.N. can help with, to use our collective numbers to provide benefits when dealing with companies,” he said.
“In the past the organisation has been a business network that casually meets and has network meetings, and that is fine but beyond that reach the organisation has grown and moulded itself.”