Talofa from Samoa
Greetings, friends and strangers.
I’ll be spending the next 3 months in Samoa providing you with my observations of the country, people and most importantly, South Pacific Business Development (SPBD), the MFI at which I’ll be working and to whom you may have lent.
I will not offer my impressions of Samoa until several weeks have passed and I can start to make some sense of everything. Otherwise, it would only be a collection of incoherent ramblings about a country of which I do not even speak its native language.
Many have asked where Samoa is located. Or more precisely, where in Africa it is. For the map-deprived Miss America watchers, Samoa is located midway between Hawaii and New Zealand. For all the other answers to general questions, go here: www.visitsamoa.ws
SPBD was started in 1999 by Greg Casagrande, an American and former Ford Motor Company executive. It’s one of Kiva’s original Field Partners. It is a Grameen Bank style micro finance organization serving those living in poverty in the Pacific Islands. It uses the group lending method and focuses on empowering women (Very effectively, I can already confidently add). Its first target market is the island nation of Samoa. The 48% of the population that the UNDP has declared as being food deficient.
For a 2006 NBC piece on SPBD, go to:
One thing is for certain. Samoa is a prime setting for microfinance: minimal government interference or regulation, politically stable, low crime, liberated women, collective environment, wealth of microbusiness opportunities and, most notably, the need for it.
For anyone mulling over the impact of Kiva on the MFIs, look no further than SPBD. Thanks to the working capital that Kiva provides, SPBD was able to expand from the main island of Upolu to Savaii in the last few months. (Which, by corollary, offered me the opportunity to visit more of Samoa). And more islands are on the horizon, literally.
I will try to keep these posts as word-less and picture-full as possible. Seeing the benefits of your work is always much more satisfying than reading about it. Alas, my fellowship./>