The Annual General Meeting of the Samoa Chamber of Commerce and Industry was conducted on Monday, 21 March 2011 at the Aquatic Centre conference room at Tuanaimato. More than 70 members of the organisation were present to witness the changeover of the Executive Council.
Past President Lemalu Sina Retzlaff-Lima bowed out after a 3-year term having taken the organisation to the formalised stage as the National Private Sector Organisation (NPSO) for Samoa supported by Samoa Hotel Association (SHA), Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME) and Women in Business Development Inc. (WIBDI); the development of a 5-year strategic plan and setting up the secretariat office with full time staff; and establishing firm relationships with development partners, national and regional bodies as well as international organisations.
Membership has grown by 38% in the past year with the introduction of new membership fees for smaller businesses who fall below the VAGST threshold. More SOEs and individual businesses are also signing up. With the establishment of the Secretariat there has been a significant increase in member services including in country training courses now expanding to include special trainings for the PSO members as well as professional associations. The recent introduction of the business mentoring programme has also brought in a fair share of new members and has been very successful over the past 8 months with more and more local businesses benefiting from the programme. Chamber representation in policy development committees, boards, and working groups continue to increase at both national and regional levels.
With Lemalu's official exit from the role of President, sliding comfortably into one of the Past Presidents’ seats on the Executive Council, former Vice President Namulauulu Sami Leota has been newly elected to lead the NPSO in the course of the next year.
Namulauulu is the General Manager of Federal Pacific Insurance Ltd, looking after Samoa and their Tonga office. Namulauulu was born and raised in Fogapoa, Savaii where he took his primary education at Safotulafai Primary School before moving on to Samoa College. He secured his first formal job in 1992 with the Courts Division of the Justice Department after graduating from Central Queensland University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. He secured a scholarship by the Australian Government to do a post graduate Diploma in Law in 1997 at Wollongong University (majoring in Court Management), and upon his return, he was appointed Deputy Registrar of the Supreme and Appeal Courts. He moved to the Private Sector in June 1999 commencing his career with Federal Pacific Insurance where he has served for the past 12 years. Namulauulu has been the official representative of Federal Pacific Insurance to the Samoa Chamber of Commerce since moving to the private sector and has represented Chamber both at national, regional and international levels.
Apart from his work, Namulauulu is involved with other organisations like the Fire and Emergency Services Authority Board, as a Director, representing the Insurance industry. He is also a member of the Samoa Shooting Federation, and was a former secretary of the Apia Rotary Club. Together with his wife Maria, they founded a party hire company, Rees Hirage Ltd in June 2006.
In the development of sports, Namulauulu has held the position of SRU’s Team Manager in national aged-group teams (U.21, U19 and the U.20) since 2004. He was also involved in a senior team, as team manager for the inaugural Pacific Rugby Cup’s championship Savaii Samoa team in 2006.
“My seven years at the courts gave me a good understanding of the processes that lead to public policy and it was a great privilege to have served under the leadership of some great men who have since excelled themselves in society.” Namulauulu was referring to his former bosses at the courts like current CEO Masinalupe Tusipa, Tagaloa Sale Kerslake (a former Cabinet Ministers and now Presidents of the Lands and Titles) and Fonotoe Pierre Lauofo who is now the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Private Sector.
As to his new role, Namulauulu stated, “I personally will not be taking this lightly, because I know that there will be many challenges ahead and bigger shoes to fill of those who were before me.”
“I have observed with amazement the tremendous growth and the development of this organization since joining as a member some 10 years ago to where it is today and this is mainly due to the hard work, the dedication and the commitment of those who were before us, especially the Past Presidents and Council members”
“Perhaps the most notable is the recent formation of the NPSO, where we now work collaboratively with SHA, SAME and WIBDI. I look forward to working with the Presidents of those organizations and can only envisage many advantages and many great things happening in the future because of this unification.”
In his maiden speech as President, Namulauulu acknowledged the tremendous work and dedication of outgoing President Lemalu Sina Lima, for leading the organization in the past three years.
“Ua faamalo fai ole faiva, malo le tau, malo le tautua...Thank you for all your efforts, commitment and dedication to this organization.”
The new President welcomed the new Council for the 2011/2012 year. “Again it’s great to see that the majority have a lot of council experience and I welcome new council members, Tuala Oli Ah Him (SHA), Sheree Stehlin (WIBDI) and Michelle MacDonald (BAT). I look forward to your contribution to Chamber’s cause.”
Chamber’s first ever CEO, Mrs. Nynette Sass, was also announced and welcomed at the AGM.
To a packed room of Chamber members, the new President reiterated that the Chamber existed to serve the needs of Samoa’s private sector. “Chamber exists for its members. This organization is not about its President or its Council. This organization is about us as members of the business community. This is the forum where your voice is heard. It is important for us to hear your views and comments on issues that are of interest to us as members of our business community. It is from those views that we as your council will form our policy positions as an organization.”
Chamber Council for 2011 are:
• President – Namulauulu Sami Leota (Federal Pacific Insurance Ltd & Rees Hirage)
• Vice President – Papalii Grant Percival (Natural Foods International Ltd)
• Secretary – Margaret Malua (Small Business Enterprise Centre)
• Treasurer – Jennifer Fruean (National Pacific Insurance)
• Executive Member – Norman Wetzell (Apia Concrete Products)
• Executive Member – Georgina Newton (CCK Trading Ltd)
• Executive Member – Michelle MacDonald (British American Tobacco)
• SAME Representative – Funefeai Oliva Vaai (Yazaki EDS Ltd)
• SHA Representative – Tuala Oli Ah Him (Millenia Hotel)
• WIBDI Representative – Sheree Stehlin (Salon Sheree)
• Past President – Lemalu Sina Retzlaff-Lima (Apia Rentals, IMEX Money Transfer)
• Past President – Klaus Stunzner Jr (Samoa Spare Parts)
• Past President – Sili Epa Tuioti (KVA Consult Ltd)