Awards celebrate Samoa business and entrepreneurs

posted: 3:00 pm - 4th October 2018
hon aupito sua wiliam sio minister of pacific peoples hon lautafi sio selafi purcell samoa minister of commerce industry labour with laura keil hall chairwoman sbn nz orig

(Picture caption: Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio, left, with Samoa’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour Hon. Lautafi Sio Selafi Purcell, and Chair of SBN NZ Laura Keil Hall enjoy the SBN Inaugural Awards. CREDIT SBN.)

Samoan business owners and entrepreneurs from Samoa, New Zealand and Australia have been recognised for their excellence and efforts in business, while serving and inspiring their communities at the inaugural Samoa Business Network (SBN) Awards.

Launched to assist a growing trend of Samoan-owned businesses, the Awards staged at Auckland’s Naumi Hotel on September 29 also marked SBN’s fifth anniversary of being in operation. 

Host city Auckland was seen as a poignant tribute to the first Samoan migrants from the 1950's onwards who were in search of the “Milk and Honey” dream.

The work ethic of those migrants was remembered and mirrored in the room full of entrepreneurial talent.

Samoa’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Labour Hon. Lautafi Fio Selafi Purcell gave an opening speech at the Awards, praising the Network and describing the event as a testimony to the evolving entrepreneurship of Samoan communities in Samoa and abroad. 

“This colourful and brilliant atmosphere is a magnificent reflection of the value of business communities that the Samoa and New Zealand Governments attach to this event,” he says.  

“We recognise, acknowledge and raise more awareness of Samoan-owned businesses and to celebrate the efforts in enhancing business development with strong evidence that they have successfully secured their fair share of local and overseas markets.”

The Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio, Hon. Afamasaga Fonoti Lepuia’i Rico Tupa’i (Samoa), stakeholders, business leaders and the wider Pacific business community also attended the awards ceremony.

Minister Sio has thanked SBN Chair Laura Keil Hall and Samoa SBN Chair Afamasaga Jackie Curry for their leadership, while also acknowledging the Awards, and the recipients.

“These Awards are an exciting example of Pacific communities creating their own opportunities to generate two-way trade between New Zealand and Samoa,” Minister Sio says.  

During a key-note speech, Author and former National Rugby League (NRL) player Sione Faumuina shared positive words of wisdom, saying how the stories of the entrepreneurs at the Awards connect them to the next generation of Samoan business owners.

"They will look at you and think, 'If she can do it so can I; if he can make a million dollars, so can I’,” Sione says.

“Running a business is hard, but we are Samoans – it is in our DNA." 

It is important for business owners to share their mistakes and errors just as much as their successes as this will help other people who aspire to start a business, Sione adds.

The big winners of the night included a three-award sweep by Samoa Stationary and Books (SSAB) winning the People's Choice Award; Samoa Based Business of the year; and the SUGA Businesswoman of the year for CEO Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai. 

Shoe company founder Gustavia Lui of Staavia's Limited walked away with the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The Start Up of The Year award was presented to Manutui Alex Talopau for his financial consulting business ARBEZ Group; and the Excellence in Hospitality award went to Auckland and Melbourne Catering company D'Vine Banquets, whose stunning presentation in Samoan food has become popular with corporate organisations. 

MYRIVR took out the Excellence in Innovation award for its popular social services app which has received widespread mainstream and Pacific media attention throughout the year. 

The SBN Chair has emphasised the Network is committed to ensuring Samoan communities are able to benefit from their collective work.

Laura says SBN’s pooling of knowledge and resources are beneficial to budding entrepreneurs as they grow and develop their businesses. 

"Samoa may be a small island developing state in the Pacific but its influence is transnational, global and ever growing.

“Nowhere is this seen more than in the world of business."

Winners of the Samoa Business Network Awards 2018:

  • Excellence in Small Business - WE Accounting & Business Services Ltd (Auckland, NZ);
  • Excellence in Construction & Trades - Levi Plumbing (Auckland, NZ);
  • Excellence in Hospitality - D’vine Banquets (Auckland, NZ & Melbourne, Australia);
  • Excellence in Professional Services - Home Graduates ECE Ltd (Auckland, NZ);
  • Excellence in Innovation – MYRIVR (Auckland, NZ);
  • Young Entrepreneur of the year (NZ) - Gustavia Lui - Staavias Ltd (NZ & Australia);
  • Start Up of the Year - ARBEZ Ltd (Tauranga, NZ);
  • Samoan Based Business – SSAB - Samoa Stationery & Books (Samoa, Am. Samoa & Auckland, NZ);
  • SUGA Business Woman of the Year (International) - Tofilau Fiti Leung Wai – SSAB (Samoa); and
  • People’s Choice Award – Favourite Business (International)  WINNER - SSAB (Samoa), 1st Runner up - Arilei Couture (Samoa), 2nd Runner Up - Staavias Ltd (NZ & Australia). 

Visit SBN for more information about the organisation.