BANK OF HAWAI‘I GRANT TO PROMOTE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AMERICAN SAMOA

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BANK OF HAWAI‘I GRANT TO PROMOTE ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN AMERICAN SAMOA

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i (October 17, 2000 - PIDP/CPIS)---Financial experts from the Samoan Service Providers Association (SSPA) and the Bank of Hawai‘i are in American Samoa this week to train entrepreneurs on how to set up their own businesses.

The two-day program is being funded in part by a $20,000 Bank of Hawai‘i donation in an effort to provide training to Samoa’s business community. About 150 people are expected to participate in the program, which is geared toward existing business owners, business start-ups, and government officials.

The SSPA’s staff and advisory board will conduct seminars focused on business concepts that incorporate Samoan cultural values along with the benefits and risks of owning a business.

"We want to lay the foundation in terms of how Samoa looks at money," said Bill Emmsley, chief executive officer of SSPA, which is based in Kalihi. "With money come values. We want to make sure their cultural values are in line with making sound financial decisions."

The program - entitled "Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) and Business Development Programs" - will also help entrepreneurs on how to receive technical assistance from financial institutions.

"There is a demand for activities in Samoa. We want to build a sub-culture of entrepreneurs to help stimulate the economy," Emmsley said.

Emmsley got the idea to start a business training program last year after observing American Samoa’s lax business climate. He approached BOH to get financial backing. He said the program was such a success that participants began requesting another seminar this year.

"The government doesn’t seem to have a strong movement toward building businesses," he said. "People are getting tired with being half fed by the government. And federal funds are getting scarcer. People want to supplement their income and develop an alternative to getting a government paycheck."

Emmsley noted that a wave of Asian immigrants have recently opened up small businesses in American Samoa.

"(Samoans) see Asians as being successful and wonder, ‘If they can do it, why can’t we do it?’" he said. "Hopefully our presence will get the ball rolling."

The remaining $9,000 funding by BOH will go toward setting up an SSPA satellite office in Pago Pago that will help Samoans with self-employment, job training, and business development. The office is scheduled to open early next year.

"It’s a pleasure for the bank to be involved in these types of programs because they provide the seeds and nourishment for future business growth," said Richard Dahl, BOH’s president and chief operating officer.

"Bank of Hawai‘i has a long-standing commitment to small business, and it is small business that fuels our economies in Hawai‘i and American Samoa," he added.

For more information about SSPA, go to http://samoanserviceproviders.com

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