By Teri Hunkin
Each year during the holidays, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located on the upper campus of the American Samoa Community College, takes the opportunity to announce Small Business grant recipients for the year.
In partnership with Bank of Hawaii, the SBDC director, Mr. Herbert Thweatt presented five locally owned businesses their grant awards for 2014. Addressing the awardees he said, “We love it when we see you open your doors and become successful!”/p>
He also noted that — of the 15 Start-Up businesses helped by SBDC — six were owned by women. In fact, he said, “the fastest growing businesses in America today are owned by women.”
At $5,000 apiece, the awards were presented on Thursday, December 18, 2014, during the annual SBDC Board of Directors luncheon, held at the Tradewinds Hotel Niumati Room.
Mr. EJ Tyler Ozu, who is Vice President and Branch Manager of Bank of Hawaii’s American Samoa branch, as well as a SBDC board member, was on hand to congratulate the recipients, who also received a lovely engraved statue commemorating their accomplishment.
The awards, which have been given out for several years now, are based on certain criteria laid out by Bank of Hawaii under their Small Business Development and Revitalization grant, which they call “Atina’e Manuia mo Amerika Samoa”.
The holidays are an especially fitting time for businesses to enjoy the fruits of their labor, and be recognized for their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit.
To be considered for a grant, business owners were asked to complete a special application (due in October) along with a copy of the applicant’s business license and recent tax clearance issued by the local government.
To be eligible, applicants should have a demonstrated track record in operating a business, or management experience. Past grant awardees were not eligible for this year’s program as the bank sought to help businesses they had not yet assisted.
Grant awardees were also required to successfully complete one of the following on or before Friday, November 14, 2014:
- American Samoa Small Business Development Center small business training program
- Bank of Hawaii Smart Money small business financial education training
Both programs are free of charge to aspiring business owners.
Grant awardees are also expected to report to the bank on how the grant has made a difference to their business and the community.
According to a memorandum issued about the program, BoH stated, “At Bank of Hawaii, we are committed to seeing our communities grow and thrive by encouraging economic development. We understand that economic development isn’t always easy, so we are investing in grants to help stimulate small business development in American Samoa. This grant program is being offered to small business owners to promote new businesses and to encourage existing small businesses to expand. Our ultimate goal is to create economic stability and maintain a superior quality of life for families in American Samoa.”
Grants of $5,000 — awarded on the basis of impact to the business and economic benefit to the community — were handed out this year to the following businesses and owners:
- Herbn’ Juice — Norma Uiagalelei
- Tutuila Green — Brooke Gurr
- Zumba Fitness — Peteru Lam Yuen and Erica Magalei
- Pacific Resources Development — Kathryn McCutchan-Fua
- Lesina — Regina Meredith
Also during the luncheon, SBDC director Thweatt shared some of the following SBDC statistics from Calendar Year 2013:
Business Start Ups: Goal: 14 Accomplished: 15
Jobs Created/ Retained: 60
Long Term Clients: Goal: 31 Accomplished: 34
Extended Engagement Clients: 48
Thweatt reminded those present that SBDC counsels clients in the areas of marketing, business proposals, business plans and grant writing — and this is all done free of charge under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
He was pleased to announce that SBDC had surpassed its goals for 2013, and gave grateful acknowledgement to his staff. He said the 2014 statistics for SBDC should be available in January. For further information, the public is welcome to log on to: www.as.sbdc.org.
Samoa News would like to congratulate all the 2014 recipients.