General Store
Village: Faleasiu, Samoa

Customers lean leisurely over the counter in front of Penina's General Store as its owner and namesake pops the tops of the Coke bottles. Penina's shop, located down an unpaved road in the middle of her inland rural village, is the only store of its kind within walking distance of her village. When it opened a year ago, Penina tapped into an underserved market segment. Her shop is sizable and well-stocked with Samoan staples of canned meat, mosquito coils and soft drinks. The shop also provides a ready venue for Penina to sell fresh fruits and vegetables grown on her plantation. In fact, her stall eliminates the need for her fellow villagers to make the day-long bus ride to the capital to buy goods for meals. When Penina first joined MicroDreams, she took a ST$ 750 (US$ 270) small business loan to upgrade her small plantation. With her husband, child and two elderly parents all living under one roof, Penina needed to ensure that she had a steady food supply and source of income to provide for her family. Yet before MicroDreams entered her life, the family had to scrape by without money to maintain the farm and without any opportunity to make a steady income. Their home had a thatched roof, no walls or windows and only an outdoor toilet and kitchen. The family car doubled as a taxi for occasional income. With solid management and equipment upgrades, Penina's plantation became profitable within weeks. Recognizing the need for a shop in her village, Penina decided to invest the profits from her plantation into opening her store, which she located in the center of her village in front of her sister-in-law's home and piggery. Once her first loan was paid down, Penina immediately applied for a second to enhance and stock her stall with goods, which she buys in the capaital, Apia, and brings back to her store. Penina had an excellent attendance record at Center Meetings and is never in arrears, so she recently qualified for a third loan of ST$ 1,750 (US$ 630). She will use it not only to make further improvements to her store, but also to pour concrete on the floor of her fale. She hopes to install a metal roof someday soon. Through her own initiative and the unsecured loans she obtained through MicroDreams, Penina's plantation and store are models of solid businesses started by MicroDreams' members. While Penina operates her store, her husband can tend the fields, and Penina has no problem paying her son's school fees. Thus, Penina's hard work and astute investment of her first loan has helped her provide a better, healthier quality of life for her entire family. MicroDreams has directly helped Penina via its partnership with South Pacific Business Development Foundation of Samoa.