Samoan Donut War: A Microfinance Success Story
By Nate Walsh, KF10 Samoa
In the spirit of Dunkin’ Donuts vs. Krispy Kreme, a fierce donut competition is raging on a small street in tropical Samoa.
Meet Lina Elisaia, donut entrepreneur and grandmother of 3. With a 1,000 Tala microloan (roughly $400 USD), Lina opened a donut bakery and shop in her front yard only to have her neighbor open a rival donut shop one month later. Waking up at 4am, Lina sells between 200-300 jam covered donuts a morning for 20 Sene or roughly .08 USD per donut.
As the sole breadwinner for her family of 5, Lina is wholly committed to dominating her village’s donut market. To keep her loyal customers, Lina is now making larger, sweeter donuts and hired her nephew to help with the baking.
A serial entrepreneur, Lina is using her profits to diversify and open a vegetable stand. Growing a garden also has its difficulties however, as wild pigs and chickens devour anything that is not protected by barbed wire. Planting a garden has dual benefits as vegetables are easy to sell in the village and her family will enjoy a more balanced diet.
Lina is currently paying back her first 52 week loan as quickly as possible so that she can get another, larger loan. With a strong entrepreneurial spirit and a bit of luck, Lina is using a few small loans to create a better quality of life for her family.
Nate Walsh is a Kiva Fellow in Apia, Samoa. He is volunteering with the South Pacific Business Development Foundation (SPBD)