Apolo became a client of South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Samoa in 2006 after friends encouraged her to join the program. Apolo is now in her seventh loan cycle, accessing WST2,000 (USD830/NZD1,100) in financing. With her first loan she built shelving in her store and expanded her inventory. Subsequent loans enabled her to purchase a refrigerator, freezer and more inventory, further expanding her product line.
Apolo also used a portion of her loans to purchase supplies and equipment – the grill, table and chairs – to launch and run a BBQ stall to supplement her income. She and her family operate the BBQ business on weekends, when the kids are not in school. She believes it’s important to teach her children how to run a business – a skill they will likely need in the future.
Before Apolo joined SPBD, her income was WST400-500 per day. Now on a weekend day, she can make up to WST 1,000-1,400 per day. Apolo’s income is now the primary source of income for her family, which includes her husband and 7 children – 2 of her own and 5 nieces and nephews.
In addition to investing in her businesses, she used a portion of the loans for housing improvements, school fees and school uniforms to make sure her children remained in school.
“I’ll Never Forget the Workshop”
In 2011, Apolo participated in an innovative program, the Inspiration Scheme workshop, offered by the Body Shop Australia, Wise Foundation and SPBD Samoa. The workshop strengthened microenterprises and built the business skills of SPBD clients. Mentors from the Body Shop also helped clients implement the lessons learned. “It was excellent,” Apolo explains. “I will never forget the workshop. I learned how to arrange my products, and put products in highest demand up front. I now have a sign in front of my store and on the roadside for advertising. I didn’t have signs before the workshop. I also made business cards to promote my businesses.” With a big thumbs up, Apolo enthusiastically says, “And customer service – it works to help me attract more customers.” Another source of pride for Apolo… her husband and children attended her workshop graduation ceremony to show their support for her.
“Seeing is believing.” Indeed Polly Kelekis, COO of MicroDreams, was certainly impressed when she saw Apolo Salafai’s general store for the first time. “Her store looks amazing. It’s not typical of the small stores one expects a microfinance client to operate. When I entered the store, I was truly impressed – Apolo’s merchandising was incredibly effective.”