SBDC Honors Standout Businessowners


Samoa News The American Samoa Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) honored several businesses during a meeting of its Advisory Board at the SBDC center in Mapusaga yesterday.

Most businesses and business owners who were honored are clients of the SBDC that was established in 2000 to aid in economic development. The SBDC is made possible by a partnership between the Small Business Administration (SBA), the federal agency that funds the SBDC, and ASCC, says Herbert Thweatt, SBDC state director.

In a statement, Thweatt says the SBDC “continues its proud service to...American Samoa’s business community as one of the country’s leading organizations involved in economic development through innovative business counseling, training and loan programs.”

Yesterday was the first time SBDC has presented such awards to members of the business community, which “recognize individuals who have started new businesses” or have provided community service, having served the SBDC, added Thweatt.

Awardees are as follows:

Business Star-up of the Year — Kalatiola Fritz — Tiola’s Unique Creations in Faga’alu

While Fritz is off-island attending a trade show, according to the SBDC, she worked for 20 years for a privately owned Polynesian gift shop before she ventured off to start her own business in 2008, investing $17,000 in her business. She has been a client of the SBDC since 2007.

“Thanks to the American Samoa Small Business Development Center, I was able to start my own business and received the marketing assistance I needed,” Fritz says in a statement.

Entrepreneur of the Year — Lucia McCaig — Value City in Nu’uuli

Accepting the award on behalf of Lucia McCaig, was her husband George McCaig who thanked the SBDC and Advisory Board member Alex Zodiacal for their help. While the McCaig’s operate several businesses, their main business is Value City, a second-hand store that carries clothing for the entire family, shoes bags and other items.

According to Thweatt, Lucia is in Fiji, working to expand her business. Lucia is also an importer and exporter of produce and had opened a spa that was destroyed in the Sept. 29 tsunami.

Community Service — Chef Sualua Tupolo, Executive Chef and nutrition consultant for the American Samoa Sodexho School Lunch Program

Chef Sualua has been an exclusive chef for three governors of the territory and has worked for Sadies Thompson Inn and the Rainmaker Hotel. In 2008, he returned to American Samoa to teach the art of vegan culinary cooking.

The SBDC provided him with consulting on marketing and applying for a business license as a Personal Chef. He offers voluntary vegan cooking with free recipes on his televised cooking show that is aired on Channel 10.

He thanked the SBDC and the DOC for their help in starting and growing his business.

Community Service — Hyun Hwi Lee, owner of Paradise Inc. in Nu’uuli for offering free courses in Korean language at the SBDC

Hyun Hwi Lee was honored after providing four years of free Korean language courses at the SBDC. His first course opened with 45 students and the next course starts Jan. 5, 2010.

Lee’s courses have included collge students, government officials, educators and business owners. Thewatt noted that Lee has worked hard to get peopl to donate resources for the “I Love Korean” language course. Registration and course material are free of charge.

SBDC Staff Award — June Paogofie-Sitala, Manager/Counselor, Business Development Division for five years of service to the SBDC

Thweatt says the SBDC used to have problems keeping staff members and honored June Paogofie-Sitala for her five years of service to the SBDC.

Paogofie-Sitala is Manager of the Business Development Division and a business counselor.

Advisory Board members were present for the awards presentation.

According to numbers provided by the SBDC, in 2008, a total of 161 clients were counseled; there were 15 business start-ups; 22 jobs created; 205 clients trained and a total capital infusion of $440,000.

set a goal of 4 business start-ups. They have recorded 12 start-ups; a total of 212 clients counseled; 33 training events with 327 training attendees. Total capital infusion was $231,890 (while the capital infusion goal was set at $600,000, it was removed by the SBA due to the global economic recession, the SBDC notes).

Thweatt commented that the SBA, which funds the SBDC has provided $6 million in SBA loans to individuals whose businesses and homes were damaged in the Sept. 29 tsunami. He said the figures were confirmned with SBA Communication Specialist Ben Raju. He anticipates another $6 million in the coming months as many have applied but not all have received their awards.

“During 2008, the SBDC enhanced the programs it offers to entrepreneurs engaged in retail, professional services, restaurants and value added manufacturing business,” said Thweatt.

He adds with the completion of Center renovations and having reached the milestone of accreditation by the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC), the SBDC “grew our training efforts to serve future entrepreneurs and the community in general with programs that are informative and designed to promote business an personal growth.”

Mata'afa, Tina. "SBDC honors standout businessowners." Samoa News. 5 Dec. 2009.

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