Couple take 'leap of faith' to start finance firm
Sinaloa Melchoir and Suasamiavaava Sefo took a leap of faith and resigned from their jobs to start a new local firm called $amina Finance Services.
The couple are well-versed in finance, with Ms Melchoir previously working as a loans officer for five years at the Samoa Commercial Bank and Mr Sefo, a former priest, coming from a finance role at Samoa Victim Support Group.
Ms Melchoir said that despite having jobs, they both shared a desire to start a business to benefit their families and assist the people of Samoa. This became a reality with the business opening at two locations – Talimatau and Saleufi – on Monday 18 January.
"We decided to resign from our jobs to start our own business where we can be of assistance for things such as the children’s school fees or any sudden family obligations," she said.
"Another purpose of why we started our own business is so that we could still have this relationship with each other because before, we’d only see each other in the evenings after work, and so I think this is very important."
Mr Sefo said that they are distinct from other finance providers because they have decided to do things differently.
"We have made it simpler in order to attract our clients and customers," he said.
"We offer the same services as other finance providers but there’s a difference in terms of our policies.
"For instance, other financial service providers add interest at the end of the month, but for us, our policy benefits the customer and in turn benefits us. We have an upfront interest."
The new business-owners said they wanted everything to be done professionally and legally.
"We did our business sign, we had an opening and had even advertised on television and have even created a Facebook page for our business," Mr Sefo told the Samoa Observer.
An added service is a partnership with IT Solutions where their service includes the fixing of mobile phones.
"We have partnered with IT Solutions because my sister owns IT Solutions. This provides a way for people who want to fix or buy phones and accessories from IT Solutions but don’t have enough money," Ms Melchoir added.
"We have created this partnership to help them so IT Solutions can refer those people to us and we can help with a loan and finance them. Customers can get their phones while they make payments to us, with interest."
A busier-than-anticipated opening, where they almost exceeded their target, has meant accelerated plans to hire employees.
"We thought we’d start off with just the two of us for now, but after today (Tuesday) we have seen how unexpectedly busy we were," Ms Melchoir added.
"It was very busy, we had just started today but we’ve gotten more than 50 clients now but our target is 60 clients in a month. And now we’re thinking that we may have employees after maybe four to six months."
Now that they have successfully established their business, Ms Melchoir encouraged young people to work hard and think positive to achieve their goals.
"Our encouragement to the youth is that we know that there are some young people who have failed at school, and they think it’s the end of the world but they should know to always try hard, believe in yourself and always think positive.
"They’ll be able to achieve their dreams and goals."
Ms Melchoir acknowledged the support they have both received as they worked to realise their dream.
"We were able to put everything together with help from my brother Aukuso, who was the major contributor in financing our business, and also from our savings," she added.
"Also I’m grateful for the opportunity that I had got to work at SCB, because without the experience and knowledge we wouldn’t be able to do this.
"We appreciate all the prayers as well, Sign Studio, TV1 Samoa, our families and especially our parents."