Luapene Lefau first Samoan to head SPBD Samoa

The South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Microfinance Network has appointed the first Samoa-born national to the role of General Manager Samoa.

Luapene Lefau brings more than 30 years of professional experience to her role, having been with SPBD Samoa for the past 17 years, most recently serving as the Finance and Administration Manager.

SPBD Founder and President, Gregory Casagrande, congratulated Luapene on her new role.

 “Over the years, Luapene has proven herself to be a tireless and exceptional leader and team builder. She is a significant reason that SPBD has achieved the success that it has,” he said.

“She is well respected across the broader SPBD Microfinance Network and within her community here in Samoa. I have no doubt, given her clearly proven abilities and extraordinary determination and dedication, that she will lead SPBD positively forward into the future.”

Prior to SPBD, Luapene worked at the Secretariat of Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP) as well as in the finance departments of various government corporations.

In her new position as GM, Luapene will spearhead the continued growth of the organization, including the expansion of SPBD’s credit, savings and remittance services as well as the launch of innovative products and new partnerships that will enable SPBD to continue impacting members’ lives positively. 

As a local national, a woman and a mother, Luapene brings a unique perspective to her position, and she is a role model for many others.

 “First of all, I would like to give thanks to the Lord for blessing me with this prestigious position. I am very thrilled and truly honored to be named the first Samoan to fill the role of GM for SPBD Samoa,” she said.

“Attaining this position is proof that emphasizing women’s empowerment and developing the capacity of the locals is a recipe for success. I was once a woman with dreams and ambitions; therefore, I would like to remind every woman out there that hard work and determination will lead us to success and achieving what may seem impossible at first.”

Luapene adds, “I would also like to express my sincere appreciation to Mr. Gregory Casagrande, Founder and President of SPBD Samoa and the SPBD Microfinance Network, for having immense faith and trust in my capacity to lead SPBD Samoa. 

“I commend his commitment and dedication in offering opportunities to enhance lives for underprivileged women and their families across Samoa. I would also like to acknowledge my former boss, Mr. Ajay Verma, for being the best coach and mentor personally and professionally. He contributed to improving my confidence to lead and be strong-hearted when a difficult situation arises, and those are the teachings I will forever cherish.”

 The SPBD is the largest microfinance provider in the South Pacific.

It is a network of microfinance 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. 

SPBD is especially focused on empowering women to start, grow and maintain micro-businesses through the provision of access to financial and business development services as well as the opportunity to build assets, improve financial security and finance housing improvements and education.

Since launching in Samoa in 2000, SPBD has provided more than 85,000 loans worth more than T$145M to Samoan women entrepreneurs to help them start, grow and expand small, income- generating businesses throughout the country.

Across the larger SPBD Microfinance Network, SPBD has provided more than 198,000 unsecured loans worth USD$ 130M to women for entrepreneurial ventures, basic housing improvements and childhood education.

SPBD also recently appointed the first Tongan national to lead SPBD Tonga, Fine Tu’ipulotu.

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