PSSF aids businesses

Jul 20, 2012

The Private Sector Support Facility (PSSF) is a project initiated by the Samoan government and funded by UNDP and the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP). The purpose of the PSSF is to provide a single framework for administering customized development grants to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the private sector. Its objectives are economic growth and sustained improvement of livelihoods in Samoa.

In order to get an insight of the development initiative’s real-life outcomes on the ground, the PSSF secretariat together with representatives from UNDP, NZAP, Ministry of Finance (MOF), Samoa Chamber of Commerce, the Samoan Tourism Authority (STA) and Samoa Hotel Association (SHA), undertook a site monitoring visit of all projects that had successfully applied for and received grants for funding under the PSSF project for the 2011 and 2012 financial cycle on the 1st and 2nd May 2012.

The monitoring group visited 14 sites located in various locations around the country of which 2 were located near the Apia town CBD (10 min walk from the main beach road), 2 in the greater Apia Town Area (10 – 15 min drive from the CBD), 4 in the Outer suburbs of Apia Town Area, and 6 located in the rural areas (2 in the central highlands and 4 along the south (1) and east (3) coastal areas). The 14 projects are operating in various sectors of the economy namely agriculture 3, tourism accommodation 7, fashion/garments 2, and food 1 bakery and 1 animal feed.

Business owners who had received funds hosted the group as they travelled around the country. During the visit the group had the opportunity to monitor the progress of each project in regards to the utilisation of funds and assets procured from grants received for each PSSF project, at the same time provide sound advice on how to improve their business or project. Similarly, the group also had the opportunity to receive feedback from the project owners on the impact or transformational changes on the ground that the funds received, has had in providing assistance in helping them develop their businesses and enhance their competitiveness.

For instance, 2 of the tourism accommodation businesses highlighted the importance of attending overseas tourism expos in improving networks and exposure to international markets which resulted in an increase in bookings, while another highlighted the importance of having online booking (website) which had resulted in full bookings for the whole year. Yet others highlighted the impact of better signage, advertisement and marketing (website, brochures, pamphlets, business cards, road signage, improved facilities) funded under the PSSF in improving patronage numbers and safety standards for their respective business.

A success story is the Litia Sini Beach Resort which is fully booked 12 months in advance owing to a website and new improved huts funded under the PSSF. The other factors contributing to the resort success is good word of mouth from former guests coupled with the owner’s ingenuity and local hospitality. A couple of milestones for the resort are winning the TRIPADVISOR Certificate of excellence Award in 2011, and moving from a beach fale operation to a fully equipped high-end beach resort operation with upgraded huts varying from SAT$286,$308 and $329 per day, office, gift shop, bar, restaurant and recreational area.

Another success story is Loriana Fashions, which highlighted the importance of funding provided from the PSSF project to attend 2 regional fashion expos which had resulted in securing market outlets in Australia, New Zealand, PNG and American Samoa. A great milestone for Loriana Fashions is they are now looking at expanding their operation at the current location due to increased demand. Similarly they are planning to open a new store in American Samoa.

All in all, the majority of assistance offered by the PSSF project for the 2011-2012 financial cycle was in the area of alleviating water scarcity during the dry season. PSSF also supported international market research, development of marketing tools, promotional material and attending international and regional expos. Increasing the businesses’ potential and competitiveness of PSSF funded projects in local and international markets.

An important tool in PSSF is the Value Chain which is defined as a sequence of productive stages of a process – whether it be production, manufacturing or the service process. The primary objective of the PSSF is to support the

development of the private sector and to enhance trade opportunities through value added initiatives for small business operators and subsistence population.

Samoa’s accession to WTO became official on the 10th May 2012. Ms. Nileema Noble, the UN Resident Representative and UNDP Resident Coordinator for Samoa, Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau, congratulated the Government on this milestone. The goal of the PSSF is now to build up the resilience and competitiveness of the private sector and trading capacity in the local economy towards a more vigorous trading environment.

The first site visit was organized in July 14th 2011.