Stories & articles of our work & our people
Accessible and affordable wireless Internet for your home or Business is now a reality in Samoa thanks to internet service provider Netvo Samoa.
While most online users in Samoa would normally access the internet from their mobile phones, for many enthusiasts this would mean a quickly drained databank…and perhaps a quickly drained bank account!
But since Netvo founder and CEO Stephen Sua Leota and the Sua Leota family had brought communications connectivity to Samoa and built a 4G /LTE network, the people of Samoa can now enjoy fast and reliable internet from their homes or businesses.
The official launch of Netvo in September 2016 means the business is still relatively new but incomparable says Netvo’s chief operations officer Togisala Tony Sua Leota.
“NetVo owns and operates their own 4G LTE network which provides robust access to the internet.”
He adds that community interests were always at heart for Netvo from the very beginning. The ability to provide better technology solutions to schools and health sectors is crucial to Samoa’s advancement in the world.
“We like to engage projects relevant to Samoan youth education and business development programs which will help youth reach their potential and connect them to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and to give them options for their future.
“It is about connecting people to family, knowledge and opportunities.”
Netvo prides itself on being a Samoa owned and operated internet service provider, in turn providing jobs for the locals. It is this success that Tony says is rewarding and outweighs the challenges of the business – challenges such as the ever-changing technological landscape which they constantly have to adapt to.
“As we expand our network and add services to better serve Samoa and our people, it is natural to continuously keep up with the rapid pace of technology and competitive markets.
“But our idea of success is to provide faster, reliable and affordable internet access to Samoan people. By concentrating on this service and supporting Samoa’s data usage, we hope to provide the best service at the best price for everybody.”
Looking back on his family’s journey, Togisala says that working hard is an ongoing craft.
“If you have a vision and passion for starting your own business, what’s stopping you from making it happen? It won’t be easy but nothing great comes easy. That means long hours, sacrifice and hard work.
“Rome wasn’t built in one day.”
NETVO - SAMOA
Location: Gold Star Building, 1st Floor, Matafele, Apia
Phone: +685 29333
Finalist profiles made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:
When you meet Fashion Stylist Nora Swann, the first thing that will capture your attention is what she is wearing. Not because of her quirky outfits and daring fashion sense - but because she pulls it off so well!
The 39-year-old founder of her own self-titled styling company ‘Nora Swann’ is a finalist in this year’s SBN SUGA Business woman of the year category. She is also a finalist in the Excellence in Innovation category.
The funky fashionista, whose villages in Samoa are Saleilua Falealili and Vaipuna Apia, started her entrepreneurial journey in 2011 after beating 4000 other entries and winning the Cleo Magazine New Zealand nationwide competition to become a Fashion Stylist.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to start my own business as a stylist,” says Nora. “And seeing as I had a bit of an eye for fashion, I thought I'd give it a try.”
Seven years later, Nora styles a mix of clientele from customers who are going through new beginnings such as a new job or weight change to hosting fashion shows and style campaigns at some of Auckland’s biggest shopping malls.
Her role as director of New Zealand’s only Pacific Fashion Runway Showcase, The Pacific Fusion Fashion Show, is one of many credentials on her long list of accomplishments, enhancing her profile as one of Auckland’s go-to fashion stylists.
Away from the glitz and glam of fashion shows, Nora says her favourite part of her job is giving back to her local community. She is often booked by charitable trust organisations, government departments and high schools to run her ‘Dressed in Confidence’ wellness workshops that help empower and build self-esteem for young women, especially young Pasifika.
Whilst it may seem common for Pasifika parents to push their children towards university study in order to ‘get a good job’, Nora believes we shouldn’t ignore the importance of having a decent wardrobe as this can influence career advancement just as much.
“Girls in school give me big hugs at the end of my ‘Dressed in Confidence’ sessions and it gets quite emotional too.”
One school social worker praised Nora’s innovative workshops.
“Our girls got to share their ideas and speak to a group, something that some of them struggled with prior to ‘Dressed in Confidence’. I cannot wait to get this initiative back into my schools.”
Like any other entrepreneur, Nora says her journey hasn’t been easy. A lawsuit four years ago had discouraged her and almost put her off fashion forever.
“I was being taken to court by an Italian international fashion giant house who has 3000 plus stores worldwide for intellectual property,” she explains.
“They then prolonged the case for 18 months trying to exhaust me of funds to cover my court fees. I won the case in the end! It was a real David and Goliath victory.”
And just like David, Nora emphasises the importance of overcoming challenges and pursuing your passion even when it seems unattainable.
“It’s important to embrace our 'Pacific-ness' too as this is an asset and strength of ours. It’s who we are.
“Chase that dream with determination, focus and perseverance and surround yourself with like-minded people who support you and who support each other.”
NORA SWANN - NEW ZEALAND
Phone: +64 21 295 7891
Finalist profiles made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:
A long distance relationship proved to have more success than challenges for John Tuulama and his now wife Irlene Mokoraka, proud owners of Chef John Tours in Samoa – a business that mixes fine dining with Samoa tourism.
“Its started when I met my wife and when she would visit Samoa,” says John.
“We would do the whole tourist thing and I would cook for her. This lead to conversations about the potential opportunities to do this as a job and so it all began.”
Having only operated their business for just over a year, Chef John Tours Samoa has already received accolades like the 2018 National Tourism Excellence Award in Samoa for Best Tour Operator. His food tour experience has his customer’s strolling through local fruit and vegetable markets where they pick out their own produce and then have it cooked by Chef John at a scenic spot where they can soak in the beauty of what Samoa has to offer while eating his delicious cuisine.
The business’s rave reviews speak for themselves.
“I got to experience Savaii with Chef John, waterfalls and all and I ended up near Manase beach while he cooked snapper with fresh fruit salad,” says Cols Kama. “What I loved about John is he has a passion for food which is matched with a passion for Samoa. He actively works to improve the experience and sustainability for all involved including the locals”
“We had a fantastic day stopping at many great locations including local markets and the To Sua Ocean Trench,” said happy tourist Jocelyn Very.
“Chef John was great company and made us feel like family. He topped our day off by cooking an amazing meal with all local products. Snapper, breadfruit, avocado, coconuts. Delicious and refreshing!”
At only 25 years of age and a thriving business to his name, John is humbled by his ongoing tour bookings. The innovative chef from the villages of Saleaula, Manase and Vailele, says that he and his wife are privileged to be doing something they really enjoy. They both encourage others to follow their paths.
“Believe in your gifts and talents and don’t let negativity in. Always look at how awesome life is and how blessed you are once you achieve what you set out to do.”
CHEF JOHN TOURS - SAMOA
Phone: +685 7655665
Finalist profiles made possible by the generosity of the following sponsors:
PRESS RELEASE - Government of Samoa
Monday 3 September, 2018
Samoa Airways is excited to announce that it has added Brisbane, Australia to its list of destinations.
Just a few months shy of its one-year anniversary, the national carrier has announced that (subject to regulatory approval) it will fly direct between Apia and Brisbane, twice weekly, on Tuesday and Sunday, using its 737-800 aircraft.
The launch flight is scheduled to take off on November 13th to mark one year since Samoa Airways took to the skies.
It’s the latest milestone in the airline’s short history, and one which promises great potential.
“The Brisbane area is home to a large Samoan population and I am particularly pleased that the national carrier, with the support of Brisbane Airport, is able to respond to calls by our community who travel frequently between Samoa, American Samoa and Brisbane for family, church and cultural obligations, for improved air access”, said Tupuivao Seiluli Alvin Tuala, CEO of Samoa Airways.
At the announcement today, Tupuivao has signed a partnership agreement, acknowledging the relationship between Queensland and Samoa, and the collaborative approach by Brisbane Airport and the national carrier to establish non-stop air services, with Gert-Jan de Graaff, CEO of Brisbane Airport Corporation.
The Minister for Samoa Airways, Lautafi Selafi Purcell will deliver the official address on behalf of the Samoan government and Samoa Airways at this occasion in Brisbane. A special event for the Samoan community in Brisbane will also be held in Ipswich today as part of this announcement.
Hon. Lautafi will also be the main speaker for this gathering. CEO Tupuivao says Brisbane presents an excellent opportunity for Samoa Airways for many reasons. Brisbane Airport is Australia's third busiest, with total annual passengers of 23 million in 2017.
It is a key gateway which serves 32 international ports and 52 domestic destinations and Brisbane Airport is an award winning airport offering world class facilities. Brisbane also has a large and wealthy passenger catchment of around five million people.
This includes 2.3 million people in the Brisbane area which includes a strong and growing Samoan community. Around 1.1 million people live in the surrounding regions which are within a 90 minute-drive, including the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and northern New South Wales, with a further 1.6 million in northern and inland Queensland in areas such as Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Brisbane is also home to some of Australia’s well known travel brands and improved air access from this key gateway will support leisure tourism opportunities for Samoa as a destination. The new flights will be available for bookings soon.
---Press Release Ends---
Notes – Samoa Airways is the designated national carrier of Samoa. It operates scheduled international air services using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft offering both business and economy class. The airline offers daily flights between Apia and Auckland and twice weekly flights between Apia and Sydney. Samoa Airways also operates a fleet of Twin Otter turbo-prop aircraft which fly multiple times daily between Fagalii and Pago Pago, in addition to domestic services within American Samoa. For more information contact: Dwayne Bentley Marketing and Communications Specialist Telephone - +685 21261 Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
PRESS RELEASE 31 Aug 2018
The Samoa Business Network are pleased to announce the finalists for their inaugural SBN Business Awards.
Laura Keil-Hall, co-founder and current chair of SBN New Zealand and Afamasga Jackie Curry, SBN Samoa Chair made the announcements of the finalists for 9 out 10 categories last night at a press conference at BNZ Manukau Branch in Auckland.
This year also mark’s the Network’s 5 years being formally established so it will be a double celebration at the Awards event which will be staged at the prestigious Naumi Hotel in Mangere on Saturday 29 September 2018.
‘We received 58 entries from Samoan businesses from around New Zealand, Samoa and Australia’ confirms Mrs Keil-Hall
‘It was important for us to distance ourselves from the process so we got an independent panel of judges to assess and score each nomination and application’ – says Ms Curry.
SBN wishes to acknowledge and thank the panel of judges for giving up their valuable time to do the judging because it was a time consuming process and they had a tough time assessing due to the high caliber of applicants and nominees.
Faafetai lava to Ron Lal of MomentumNZ, Tupa'imatuna Jody Jackson-Becerra of AUT, Taufagaafa Michael Sang Yum of 7E Systems Ltd and Aumua Rosetta Simanu of Auckland Council. They assessed entries for all 9 award categories and we had Rachel Petero of RISE2025 as a guest judge for the SUGA Business Woman of the Year award.
One category, which makes up the 10 is the “People’s Choice Award – Favourite Business” which will be presented to the favourite business according to a popular vote, as voted by the public online. Please keep a look out for your favourite business to vote for when the voting opens up on September 1 st and the winner will be announced on the night of the Awards.
The SBN Business Awards event will pose a corporate style dinner, with entertainment and speakers from the Samoan business community.
One of those speakers who will also be our Key Note is Sione Faumuina, former NRL rugby league star player, who has now established himself as a successful motivational speaker, success coach, author and trainer. He's reached over 2 million people through his various social media outlets, and also travels throughout Australia and New Zealand to speak his message of creating lasting change in your life and business to achieve success.
The guest list will include dignitaries and representatives of the Samoan and New Zealand government, stakeholders, business leaders and the wider business community.
Keil-Hall and Curry wish to acknowledge the support of the sponsors; Major Sponsor, Pacific Media Network [PMN – Niu FM & 531PI], Associate sponsors; SUGA Magazine, Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, Bluwave, Emotions Events, RISE2025 and supporting sponsors N5 Consulting and Rimani Samoa. We also want to acknowledge the ongoing support of BNZ Manukau.
Here is the list of Finalists for the Award Categories & Finalists in alphabetical order:
1. Excellence in Small Business (NZ)
This award recognises a business that has accomplished significant growth in the previous 24 months.
2. Excellence in Construction & Trades (NZ)
This award recognizes a business in construction and trades. Whether you excel at building, plumbing, roofing, electrical, painting, engineering or any other professional trade services.
3. Excellence in Hospitality (NZ)
This award recognises an outstanding accommodation venue, cafe, restaurant, caterer, pub or bistro facility. This business should pride itself on delivering exceptional customer service, high standards in presentation and delivery of both your accommodation, food and service.
4. Excellence in Professional Services (NZ)
This award recognises a business in the professional services industry that is excelling at legal, accounting, real estate, broking, dentistry, medical services or any other professional service.
5. Excellence in Innovation (NZ)
This award recognises a business that have made significant contributions to their business through the introduction or improvement of an idea, method, technology, process or application.
6. Young Entrepreneur of the year (NZ)
This award recognises a young person aged between 18-35 years who, through their own commitment and passion, has built and operates a successful business. A young business leader who demonstrates outstanding entrepreneurial spirit, strategic direction and innovative ideas whilst providing inspiration to a new generation of upcoming young business people.
7. Start Up of the Year (NZ)
This award recognises a business that has been operating for less than 2 years that delivers a product/service/idea/invention with credible potential. It recognises early-stage startups that have a solid chance of market success, and strongly displays the entrepreneurial spirit.
8. Samoa based Business of the Year (Samoa only)
This award recognises a business in Samoa who is making a difference and contributing to the economic development of Samoa in a significant way, innovative in their approach to business, has a strong online presence and has shown significant success and growth in the last 12 months. [note: this award has 4 finalists with a tie for 2 entries]
9. SUGA Business Woman of the Year (International)
This award recognises and celebrates a Samoan woman with outstanding business acumen, excellent leadership skills and has distinguished herself in her business and with her peers.
10. People’s Choice Award – Favourite Business (International)
This award is presented to the favourite business according to a popular vote, as voted by the public online. The winner will be announced on the night of the Awards – The contenders are:
We didn’t want the SBN Business Awards just to be an event but we are using this initiative to also promote and profile the finalists as well as those who submitted entries. Profiles of the Finalists will be available on the SBN website and Facebook page leading up to the Awards.
Tickets to the event will be available from Saturday 1 st September at $1000 for a corporate table  and $120 per person via Eventbrite.
If you want to support SBN Business Awards and become a sponsor please email us email@example.com or contact Laura Keil-Hall on 021659072.
For more information on Samoa Business Network events and projects please visit their website https://www.samoabusinessnetwork.org or connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
For Membership enquiries, please call Stephanie Solomona at EMD on 22843 in Samoa or Laura Keil-Hall on 021659072 in New Zealand.
End of Press Release
For further media interviews and quotes, please contact:
Laura Keil-Hall | SBN Chairwoman (New Zealand) |+64 021659072 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Afamasaga Jackie Curry |Phone: +6857511773 (available on Viber & Whatsapp) | NZ Phone: +64 226575990 | email@example.com
For Event Photos & Videos please view online & give Photo/Video Credit to Galumoana Photography:
Video of Finalist Announcement - https://youtu.be/JFZqCEaYFhk
Photos of Finalist Announcement: Facebook Photo Album
SBN Business Awards 2018 Sponsors
Samoa Business Network Inc.
Connecting, Sharing, Celebrating & Promoting Samoan Businesses, Entrepreneurs & Professionals.
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