Local business reap Business Link programme benefits
More than 50 small businesses in Upolu and Savai'i have benefited from subsidies for service providers’ fees paid through the Business Link Pacific (B.L.P.) programme.
B.L.P. is a private sector development programme that connects businesses in the Pacific Islands to local, quality advisory service experts.
Some of the areas of expertise include: business and strategic planning, financial services, accounting and financial management, loans and investment facilitation, information technology, market research, advertising, recruitment and Human Resource, standards and certification, e-commerce and export promotion.
The Communications and Impact Manager for B.L.P., Sandra Mendez, told the Samoa Observer that they work with business advisors to grow the market for advice in the Pacific Islands.
She said that a small business that wants to access the subsidies undergoes a diagnosis assessment like an in-depth business assessment to basically identify their gaps within the business.
“We provide a report that will give a list of service providers in our network, an example would be accounting needs,” she said.
Ms. Mendez said that if the small business is eligible, the B.L.P. programme will help subsidise the service fee for them.
The B.L.P. programme is funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
It is a New Zealand Aid Programme initiative honouring New Zealand’s commitment to supporting the economic growth of Pacific Island countries.
Ms. Mendez stated that reliable advice and support can have a significant positive impact on businesses, especially those in a growth phase.
“Growing businesses are often in need of extra resources and capabilities to support ongoing operations or special projects.
“An external business advisor can provide that extra support and make all the difference in times of stress.
“There are over 11 business advisors in Samoa but over 60 business advisors in the four islands we operate.”
Since 2017 B.L.P. has supported over 300 small-medium sized businesses, facilitated 282 business advisory service subsidies and supported the creation of 177 new jobs across four islands; 49% which are filled by women.
In August 2019, the B.L.P. Portal was launched, an innovative online platform designed to connect quality business advisors with growing businesses.
The Portal offers a free online Business Health Check that identifies business gaps and provides a list of service providers that are quality approved and can address the identified gaps.
B.L.P. Samoa Service Manager, John Lemoa said that a great need for small businesses is around the area of financial management.
“We are talking about small businesses not really big corporates who have internal accountants and who are trying to run everything themselves.
“Before B.L.P. was implemented Chamber of Commerce ran a B.L.P. survey asking the business community whether they see a need for business advisory in Samoa and the most of them identified yes around the area of financial management.
“In Samoa we have facilitated 54 subsidies for various companies and we have supported the creation of 19 new jobs since 2019.”
Ms. Mendez added that they are working closely with the Chamber for the sustainability of the programme.
“The problem that the programme wants to address is private sector growth and how do we support businesses to grow in a sustainable way.
“One of the solutions to that was to work with existing markets for business advice such as accounting or marketing firms that can support any business to grow.
“Instead of bringing free expertise from overseas, the New Zealand Government thought that it would be more sustainable if we will leverage the local talent and work with existing service providers.
“Some of the difficulties for small businesses are that they do not know the quality of service and B.L.P. brings a network of trusted advisors that have been approved because of the quality of the services they provide.”
She added that business advisors will remain in the country even if the programme concludes.
Over 60 business advisor members of the B.L.P. Advisor Network have helped to create incredible business transformations, increasing economic growth across Samoa, Vanuatu, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The B.L.P. team is based in Auckland, New Zealand and is currently supported by in-country partners in Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa & Papua New Guinea, with in-country partners in the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands yet to be established.