Social and economic impact assessment of the Samoa Small Business Enterprise Centre

Economic development Small business Foreign aid Samoa
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A significant barrier to the establishment of any small business anywhere is the inability to access suitable finance. As a small business advisory centre, the Samoan Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC) is unique in having addressed this problem through its partnership with the local commercial banks, its guarantee scheme and supportive business advisory services. The review in 2002 commissioned by NZODA concluded that SBEC had successfully developed this formula and was making a positive impact on its clients and the Samoan Economy. It was developing new business at a steady rate in line with the relatively modest level of its guarantee scheme ($750,000) as provided by NZODA and was considered as a good example and regional model. Since 2002, an ambitious ADB loan funded Business Development Program has provided a ten million dollar boost to SBEC with another guarantee fund. Currently SBEC is suffering from symptoms of too much money chasing too few projects with insufficient management resources, just as many Development Banks (including the Development Bank of Western Samoa – as it was then known) did after they were established in the late 1970’s / early 1980’s. For the development banks, this eventually resulted in quite large loan write-offs, bank recapitalisation and withdrawal from small loans and advisory services. Improving the standard of living is one of the main objectives of Samoa’s Statement of Development Strategy and in this regard, SBEC is clearly helping the people of Samoa. A survey conducted with SBEC clients confirms a positive and significant economic and social impact from SBEC’s activities to date. It confirms the significant impact of SBEC services on the standard of living and well being of the client, family and local community and in particular, survey respondents indicated having achieved improved access to better education, health care, food and all the basic needs. Importantly, clients who previously had no regular source of income have become empowered by the success of their small businesses, more self reliant and better able to take part in local activities through their raised status.

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