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Celebrating women's empowerment across the Pacific

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

Taufa Pahulu used microfinance to start a new seafood restaurant in Tonga. Photo: SPBD 2020.

By South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Microfinance Network

Empowering women to dream big and to achieve their dreams – and then supporting them along the way – is core to the success of the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Microfinance Network. SPBD believes in its members, 99% of whom are women, and sometimes all you need is somebody believing in you to give you the confidence to move forward, take a risk and start down the path of improving your life.

SPBD is especially focused on empowering women to start, grow and maintain micro-businesses, and the organization provides them with the access to financial and business development services as well as the opportunity to build assets, improve financial security and finance housing improvements and education.

Members like Taufa Pahulu who, with SPBD support and financing, grew her business, significantly improved her housing and living conditions, and sent her daughter to school. Taufa joined SPBD in 2013, and today she runs her aquarium business. Her husband also works in the family business, and Taufa employs four divers to help as well. With her latest loan, Taufa diversified her business and started a new seafood restaurant. She also used the funding to make additional housing improvements and to buy a van.

“My family improved the quality of living since I joined the SPBD loan program.  Not only did I get financial assistance but I also got advice and training to learn more on how to do business. Thank you SPBD for helping me and my family,” she said.

Leadership roles

SPBD not only offers meaningful economic opportunities to its members but also its female staff. SPBD promotes women to top leadership roles, with women holding 45% of the top positions across the network. At SPBD in Samoa, women hold 100% of the top three positions, and in Tonga the figure is 66%. SPBD is proud to showcase its successes for gender equity – 56% of SPBD’s workforce across the network is female.

SPBD knows the power of women first-hand. For 20 years, we have seen what they can accomplish. Our members want to improve their lives and their families’ lives.  They want healthier housing, better nutrition, and better education for their children. They want the next generation to have a better life. So, how can they make that happen when there are so few jobs?  Where can they turn when they have to rely on their own resourcefulness and their own skill set? They can turn to SPBD. We are so proud to provide the financing, support and training so they can get the tools they need to succeed,” says SPBD General Manager Fine Tu’ipulotu.

Since its launch in 2000, SPBD impacted more than 70,000 women. SPBD disbursed more than 225,000 small, micro loans to hardworking, low-income entrepreneurs in the South Pacific.

International Women's Day

SPBD Founder and President Greg Casagrande reflected, “Since our inception 20 years ago, SPBD has been on a journey to provide meaningful economic opportunity to underprivileged women micro-entrepreneurs. We invest in women, empower their dreams and deliver impact.”

On International Women’s Day, SPBD honors its female clients and female staff for their hard work, drive, and determination.

Taufa Pahulu grew her own aquarium business in Tonga. Photo: SPBD 2020.

South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Microfinance Network

SPBD’s mission is to improve the quality of life of underprivileged families by providing them meaningful economic opportunity to help lift them permanently out of poverty.  SPBD is especially focused on empowering women to start, grow and maintain micro-businesses through the provision of access to financial and business development services as well as the opportunity to build assets improve financial security and finance housing improvements and education.

SPBD operates in the Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Vanuatu.  Since its inception in Tonga in 2009, SPBD hasprovided 50,000 loans totaling almost TOP$90M to Tongan women entrepreneurs to help them start, grow and expand small, income-generating businesses across Tongatapu, Vava’u, Ha’apai and ‘Eua. Across the larger SPBD Microfinance Network, SPBD has provided more than 225,000 unsecured loans worth more than USD $158M to women for entrepreneurial ventures, basic housing improvements and childhood education.

SPBD works to advance financial inclusion through microfinance to improve the lives of people. SPBD’s microfinance programme supports the advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

SPBD’s vision is to create a network of financially self-sufficient and scalable micro-enterprise development organizations throughout the South Pacific.


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