Focus on your own to succeed: Savaii businesswoman

Hard work, perseverance, dedication, and placing one's trust in God, are the keys to success. 

Ask the matriarch of the Andemann household from Salei'a, Savai'i, and she will tell you just that. 

Maiava Pusi Andemann is a 72-year-old renowned business-woman of the Itu-o-Tane area. 

Her business and her family have been serving the community through their retail store and canteen that has been operating for more than five decades. 

The family now operates three different stores in the Itu-o-Tane area and has also expanded their services by opening a restaurant and bar at Salei'a, amidst the uncertainty of the ongoing State of Emergency. 

Taking a walk down memory lane, Maiava recalls that the business she started with her late husband, Sa'aga Pili Andemann started with just $200 tala. 

"We were both young and were just starting our own small family. I remember it was the year 1970, and my late husband's father, who was a businessman back then, had a lot of money. 

"He then gave us some money, asking me and my husband to start a business so we can raise our own children and send them to school. 

"My husband was a bus-driver back then and the money he made also helped with the starting of our business. So our journey started in Fagamalo, at my husband's family. 

"We started a small shop but focused on making scones, pork buns, and other things to sell at the different schools we had back then in this area. 

"I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning to prepare sandwiches, scones, pork buns, pancakes, and other things to sell.

"That was how we started, and I have not stopped since then." 

Maiava said her love for her children was what pushed her to keep working hard, even during difficult times. 

"We faced so many challenges along the way, especially at the beginning. We had doubts and there were times when we felt like giving up because it's not easy to manage a business and be a mother. 

"There were times when we were too focused on growing and expanding our businesses instead of our children. However, it is that parental love we have deep down in our hearts and the dream of seeing our children succeed in life, that's what kept us going. 

"That was the motivating factor for me, as a mother and as a businesswoman. If you really love them, you have to keep working hard so they can live good and successful lives.

"There were sacrifices that we had to make, but it all paid off."

Maiava is a true believer that you can go far in life if you have the love and support of your family and friends. 

"When we moved from Fagamalo to Salei'a, there were issues relating to land and the owner of the land. It was something we had to fight for but it is now back to us. 

"This is because I had the best support group. I had the support of my brothers and sisters and their families overseas, the support and love of my husband's family and that really kept me going. 

"As the business and canteen started to grow, we started hiring people from our village to work for us and help with the operation of our family's business.

"We still have our family's canteen for the schools and colleges in Savai'i. The canteen has really helped our business and we are grateful to God for instilling great knowledge and talents in us.

"I am not saying this now to show off or anything, but if you ever go to any bank in Salelologa and look for my name there, you will never find it because I am not a person who goes out and loans money from the bank." 

Self-sufficiency and hard work are the key to survival, and Maiava strongly argues that "poverty" does not exist in Samoa. 

"The reason why I say this is because we are so blessed with so many resources, lands and talents from God. I am a business-woman and I think about all sorts of ways to earn money and to help grow our business. 

"I've dedicated my life and strength in making sure that my children and family will not depend on others to live. We had the canteen running from the beginning up until now. 

"For more than fifty years, we have been serving our children and our people through our canteen and shops. We also have a big plantation, cattle farms, and so on. Those things all helped grow our business from scratch to where it is now.

"We should not just sit around and wait for the money to come to you. If you really love your children and family, you have to make good use of your strength, knowledge, and resources from God.

"We have opened up other outlets in other villages and recently we have expanded our services by opening a restaurant and bar for our people in Savai'i. Nothing comes easy in this life. 

"You just have to persevere and keep working hard."

While her business has been spared from major financial impacts because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Maiava said she believes the Government should consider dropping down taxes for small businesses in the country. 

"There are so many new laws and so many new registration fees we have to pay. We are all affected one way or another financially. Even though our business is still doing well, we would appreciate help from the government so that other small businesses in the country can survive during these difficult times."

Even though Maiava is now confined to a wheelchair, her heart and mind still long to be behind the counter of her shop, serving the people of Savai'i. 

But she is placing her trust in her children to run their family businesses. 

"My husband helped out a lot, back when he was still alive. He passed away in 2005 and so I was left with our children. 

"That did not discourage me nor did I give up. As a parent, it does not matter what you face and what challenges you face, you should never give up for the sake of your children."

When her opinion was sought about the rise in the number of Chinese-owned businesses and supermarkets in the country, Maiava giggled and said, "Why should I worry about the Chinese and their businesses? 

"You should not look and waste your energy to observe other people's businesses. Devote your energy, time, and strength into developing and growing your own businesses, then you will not have any problem. 

"There is no need to compete with the other shops if you focus on your own."

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