The Samoa Business Network (S.B.N.) kicked off 2018 with their first networking event of the year at the Tusitala Tanoa Hotel on Tuesday evening.
They welcomed special guest and speaker, Tofilau Esther Tofilau-Tevaga, a New Zealand based entrepreneur to speak to their members.
S.B.N. Chairperson, Afamasaga Jackie Curry, said at the start of the evening, they acknowledged their members of their business community who were affected by Tropical Cyclone Gita and that the evening was dedicated to motivating and inspiring their network during hard times and revealing their plans for 2018.
Tofilau is a business woman, entrepreneur, community leader and politician in New Zealand. She spent seven years running her finance company which had branches in New Zealand and Australia and then made a career change and now runs a successful health and wellness business.
She is also a founding member and President of Pacific Bodybuilding and was the first Pacific female in the world to qualify as an I.F.B.B. bodybuilding judge.
At the network event, her aim was to share her story as real and raw as it was at times. As a business woman, who wore a lot of hats, she has had successes in business over in Zealand as well as a lot of failures which she was very open about.
Through sheer determination, Tofilau managed to overcome challenges by being creative and open to changes. She opened up about running a finance business that catered specifically to Pacific people and the challenges of balancing heart and head when it came to understanding Fa’a Samoa and managing a business.
“Our members appreciated her honesty and also they appreciated the fact that she was honest about the challenges of dealing with the Pacific community,” Afamasaga said.
“She’s pretty real about it in that you try and do something to help people but also realising sometimes people will try and take you down because you’re moving up, she was quite clear about that,” said Afamasaga.
Tofilau encouraged the S.B.N. Executive to continue with their mission to connect Samoans all over the need in business and share resources to help build each other up in business.
“I have achieved much more through determination and knowing that we can achieve anything in life that we put our mind too. A famous quote from Oprah said ‘Think like a Queen, a Queen is not afraid to fail; failure is another stepping stone to greatness’.”
Afamasaga said having Tofilau to speak at their first event of the year really motivated their members and it was a good start to the year.
“She just really set a good tone for us at the start of 2018, she really encouraged us as S.B.N. to keep connecting our people globally because she really believes in the saying ‘act locally, think globally’,” said Afamasaga.
“She really supports our mission in connecting Samoans all over the world. She also encouraged us to always look out for other opportunities even though something hasn’t gone as well as we thought but still having that open mind about opportunities.
She really encouraged working together, supporting each other, uplifting each other in business. It was so awesome what she had to share. For Samoa, she knows it’s a small market and she knows it’s very competitive and that rather than competing in a small market to look outwards and to think outside of Samoa. The world is so big and there is a big demand for our products.”
“We just want to thank you to our main event sponsor, Tusitala Tanoa Hotel, for their continued support and offering an exclusive corporate rate to our members. Thank you to the Samoa Commercial Bank and we are so excited to partner with them because they want us to support small business growth in Samoa.
Thank you to S.S.A.B. and Tofilau Fiti for her continued support of us, she really believes in the vision of the Samoa Business Network.”
This year the S.B.N. plan have set their goals and among them is to set up a shared office space in Auckland, New Zealand, and work towards opening a distribution center in order to help enable their members who are thinking of exporting their products and keeping in line with their vision of “act locally and think globally”.
Further to that, they are close to setting up a branch in Sydney, Australia and aiming to also start up branches in Melbourne and Brisbane.