Friday, December 12, 2014

Agriculture Training Held on Chuuk


By: Ketsen Haregaichig
Director/Business Advisor
Chuuk SBDC




In 2013, there was an MOU signed between the Department of Agriculture, College of Micronesia-Land Grant and Chuuk SBDC for a joint effort and collaboration in training the people of Chuuk.   The workshops featured topics on learning how to prepare the soil before planting food plants, how to take care of the plants, when and how to harvest, take the harvest to the kitchen, on the sink and all that, prepare the harvest for consumption and  the extra for the market place.  A group of more than twenty young men and women put on their big smiles as they got together for a group picture.  This group of young men and women is the first group that completed a one week training done by the Department of Agriculture, COM Land Grant and the Chuuk SBDC. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Future is Bright for Namdrik Virgin Oil Project


By: Anel N. Philimon
Director/Business Advisor
(RMI SBDC)


On behalf of Namdrik Coconut Cooperative board and members, the Honobable Mattlen Zackhras (Senator of Namdrik Atoll at National Parliament), the Honobable Clearance Luther (Mayor of Namdrik Atoll) and the Project Manager Mr. Erakdrik Joel were on hand to join the Bank of the Marshall Islands-BOMI officials Mr. Patrick Chen, President and CEO and Ms. Velma Edward, Commercial Loan Officer in the signing ceremony of the line of credit fund given by BOMI for Namdrik Virgin Oil Project. Also the RMI SBDC staff were invited to witness the signing and awarding of the fund.

Mr. Joel said, this line of credit is the first to be given to a Non-Government Organization (NGO) in the outer islands and they were proud to be part of this partnership with the Bank of the Marshall Islands and the Tobolar Copra Processing Authority.

This is the second time the Namdrik Coconut Cooperative receive loans from the Bank of the Marshall Islands for its virgin oil project with the assistance from the RMI SBDC. First, we received a Micro Loan of $10,000 which has been fully paid, and now we receive this Line of Credit of $25,000.

We aim to be selling our virgin coconut oil to Marshall Island Service Corporation and Tobolar in bulk in the very near future and this would happen with the assistance from BOMI and the RMI SBDC.

“Copra is still the main source of income for our people and we have spent all of our time and resources developing this industry so it is sustainable,” said Mr. Joel.


Namdrik leaders recognized BOMI, RMI SBDC and Tobolar Management because without their assistance this would not happen. Komol Tata.

For more information on how the RMI SBDC can assist you, please call Leeno Aikuij at (692) 625-3685 or visit our website at www.pacificsbdc.com or email him at leeno@pacificsbdc.com.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Casa Bonita: Authentic Mexican Cuisine

By: Fred Granillo
Business Advisor
(Guam SBDC)


Eleazar Lopez is originally from the country of El Salvador in Central America. He and his wife Reina immigrated to the United States about 30 years ago. Today, the couple has one daughter, Anna, and two sons David and Jose. Eleazar came to Guam to work in the old Sizzlers Restaurant that has since closed. Eleazar worked for the owner in Los Angeles so he trusted Eleazar to help strengthen the cooking operations for that business. After the Sizzlers closed, Eleazar has worked as a cook for various restaurants on Guam. The Lopez’s have lived on Guam for 22 years and love the island life that is family oriented. The Lopez’s value their El Salvadoran heritage that they want to pass on to others through their food, whether it is at home or the business.
 
Eleazar decided to start his food business because he has always had a love for the food & beverage industry where he has spent his career. Plus the desire to introduce Guam to his style of authentic El Salvadoran/Mexican flavors. Eleazar has always had a dream to be a business owner and now with the timing right for him and his wife, he wants to take the opportunity and make a better life for his family.
 
 
With his 30 years of food & beverage industry experience in every facet of cooking responsibilities with many different types of menus, he is uniquely qualified to establish this small food business. Further, Eleazar operated his own sole proprietor food business called D&J Hotdog Stand located in Hagatna from 1997 – 2002. He ended up closing that operation due to economic circumstances. The economy declined and sales slowed to the point it was difficult to continue. He is the first to say that he gained valuable knowledge in running a business at that challenging time. As a result, he believes that has made him a better operator with an eye on food costs and always looking to attract new customers.
 
Mr. Lopez noted business advisor, Fred Granillo, has been instrumental in getting their business to where it is today. Mr. Granillo assisted in the completion of the business plan and financial projections required by the Chamorro Village. By assisting with the business plan, he helped clarify how he intended on doing business differently from his last business venture. Further, the additional business advice on licensing and noting all the leasehold improvements needed up front was key. The business plan also helped secure the business loan which was not the original objective but extremely needed. Mr. Lopez noted the SBDC is an important assistance to all of Guam's small businesses and encourage others who want to start their business to utilize them.
 
The start-up process was time consuming and detailed in just completing the licensing process. He had to endure changes and delays in the governmental department clearances in order to secure the business license. Once he completed the Chamorro Village requirements, then he had to complete the licensing process which took over one month. But well worth all the effort and stress as the business once established had a clear direction with the business plan. Eleazar was ready for all other facets including suppliers, menu set up, and product pricing.
 
The business was funded partially through personal savings but primarily through a Bank of Guam loan. The total funding key to establish equipment, improvements and start-up costs like inventory and supplies. He is grateful to the bank and fully intends on paying off the loan because he realizes that he will likely go back to request for more financing when he needs to expand his operations.
 
The biggest challenges they faced in starting up the business was applying for all the permits and setting up the inspections for all the respective agencies that have different schedules for their offices. This was done while he still worked at a job. So he endured about three months of the total process before he could actually have the opportunity to open his business. The completion of the business license and sanitary permit represented the most memorable triumph. That is because of the lengthy process and scheduling involved. The day the business opened denoted a personal triumph as well for Mr. Lopez after 12 years he finally re-opened his food business which made him very happy to be a business owner once again.
 
The Lopez’s goals are in the short term constantly come up with new ideas for the menu including new products and fresh ingredients. Also work with his children to help him market the business on a modest budget. Long term is to expand upon the sales volume and eventually leave his part time job, and then he can devote all his attention to his business. Also look to invest in updated equipment after a about four years.
 
The Lopez’s would advise anyone to follow their dreams of business ownership. Although it is not easy and there is no guarantee of success, the freedom and independence is addicting to one’s personal well-being. But he does note preparing a business plan this time for his business has greatly helped him focus on the priorities.  Plus take advantage of the available free business resources such as the Guam Small Business Development Center.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The SUP Shack Guam is Open for Business

By: Denise Mendiola-Hertslet
Senior Business Advisor/WIB Program Coordinator
(Guam SBDC)

  
 

High school sweethearts Jonte and Lad De Leon are the proud owners of The SUP Shack Guam. They have been married for 9 and half years and are raising two beautiful daughters, Gabrielle and Mylee and have three fur babies: Biggie Smalls, Ruca and Mochi.  After stepping foot on her first paddle board, Jonte said it was “Love at first paddle!” Her addiction of paddle boarding started out mild with paddling by herself to paddling with her dog then her family and now with the community. For two years, the idea of owning a stand-up paddle (SUP) retail/service business has been running in the back of her mind. Jonte thought that since she enjoyed it so much why not make a career doing something she loved doing. Her passion for paddle boarding coupled with her 14 years in the retail, business management, and customer service industry, motivated her to pursue her dream. She spent countless hours researching and educating herself about stand-up paddle boarding and also went out in the water and constantly learned from trial and error. Jonte felt that that she needed to take that next step but where to begin?

A friend had referred her to the Guam Small Business Development Center (SBDC) which she heard of but was not familiar with the services they provided. So, she went onto the website and went through the request for counseling process. She had set her appointment to meet with Denise Mendiola-Hertslet to start preparing her business plan. Jonte did not realize how much work was needed in writing a business plan and creating the financial projections. She states, “I was amazed at how much work it was to open a business. I think to some degree, everyone knows it takes work, but until you go through the planning process, you never realize how much work is required.” She found herself questioning whether this decision to start was the right thing to do and ultimately it was. She explains that the Guam SBDC program helped her write her business plan and come up with a financial projection sheet that helped her visualize how her business would grow over the years. She continues saying that what the business plan did for her was dissect the business into different sections and strategies. This enabled her to focus on certain areas where there was room for improvement. After weeks of modifying the business plan and what seemed like a ton of hours dedicated to research, Jonte saw things coming together and could see her end result. She was motivated more than ever, because now she had a structure and a measurable goal to reach. 

Her next step was to seek additional funding. Jonte adds, “Helpful hint: I went to my bank, Bank of Guam, with my business plan, financial projection, resume, and tax returns for the past three years. Having almost all those documents helped speed up the business loan process.” At the Bank of Guam, Jonte worked with Esther Reyes, a loan officer, who assessed her business plan package and her personal financial status. Esther was very professional, friendly, and expeditious. With Esther’s assistance, Jonte was able to get a loan from the Bank of Guam.

Opening up a business is a stressful task and Jonte faced some challenges along the way.  Research and time difference between Guam and the U.S. were the top two obstacles in opening up her business. She states, “The research is the hardest part of the process, because it takes a lot of time and a whole lot of patience. Since all my inventory needed to be ordered from off-island, I had to deal with questions not always being answered in a timely manner. “ She goes on to say, “That was very frustrating because on my end, I am trying to go 100% full steam ahead, but was at the mercy of the companies to get answers. Being that I am new to all this, sometimes I would have to modify my questions about inventory and wait again for an answer. The worst would be when the weekend hit and I’d have to wait until Tuesday Guam time because we are a day ahead.”

Opening up a business is not all about the challenges, there are victories that every business owner encounters whether it be completing a daunting task or serving a certain number of customers. With an optimistic mind-set, Jonte says that every step is a triumph because every step meant that she was all the more closer to her dream. She recalls on the moment that she completed her business plan and financial projections with the Guam SBDC and getting her loan approved from Bank of Guam as victories. “I was in heaven because all the hard work of researching, modifying, prioritizing, and most of all patience had paid off,” Jonte describes. She goes on to say,” I am quickly learning that no matter what stage I am in with my business, I will always feel a sense of triumph because the hard work put into it resulted in another day of being in business.”

The SUP Shack Guam has marketing as their priority. They are humbly starting their business in a 40 foot container out of their home and want the community to know that they are open for business. They take pride in knowing that they are building their dream literally from the ground up. In the long run, the De Leons hope to one day be busy enough to have to open an actual store location. In addition, Jonte has been lining up ducks to start distribution out of Guam sometime in the near future.

For everyone planning to open up their business, Jonte advises how important it is to have a business and financial projection plan. She states, “The plan, to me, is the foundation of my business. It’s provided me with guidance to stay on track with building my business from the ground up as well as increased my chances with a business loan. I find myself constantly referring to it because not only does a business plan help you breakdown start-up costs, but it also breaks down who you are and what you and your business is all about.”

To inquiry about The SUP Shack Guam, contact Jonte or Lad at 929-0436 or 929-8428. You can also visit their website at www.thesupshackguam.com or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thesupshackguam/.

For more information on how the Guam Small Business Development Center can assist you, contact their office at 735-2590 or contact Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Women in Business Program Coordinator and Senior Business Advisor at 735-2594. Visit their website at www.pacificsbdc.com.

 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ms. Pinetree’s Hostel/Bed & Breakfast: The First in Micronesia

By: Lisa Abraham
Palau SBDC Director

 

Is it a bed and breakfast? No…it’s a hostel. What is a “hostel?” If you google the word “hostel” on the internet, Wikipedia defines “hostel” as budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available.   A popular type of accommodation among backpackers or college students in the United States as well as European travelers.

 

Ellen Dirrengas Toribiong-Marcia, Ms. PINETREE’s, is a sole proprietor woman-owned business in the accommodation industry.  The business is located in the back road Koror.  Although known as backroad on the way to Ngerbeched, Pinetree Hostel is actually in the heart of Koror; a walking distance to Bank of Hawaii, several restaurants and the recreational track & field as well as the national gymnasium.  The location also provides a peaceful area away from the main road commotion and is around a residential area for a local touch.  Mrs. Ellen D. Toribiong-Marcia’s main target market is the tourists on a short stay or diving visitors who are seeking clean, comfortable beds with access to food, water and amenities of a home.  “It’s like a home away from home type of accommodations”, commented Mrs. Ellen D. Toribiong-Marcia.  Visitors mainly pay for the bed and lockers, but all amenities of washing your own laundry, TV room and internet access as well as cooking for yourself is all there for self service.
 

To assist in the start-up costs, Mrs. Toribiong-Marcia was awarded a commercial loan through the National Development Bank of Palau (NDBP) to accomplish her start-up goals.  For reservations and/or inquiries, you may visit the PINETREE Hostel web site at http://www.mspinetrees.com or call Mrs. Marcia Toribiong-Marcia at phone (680)488-2441 or e-mail at mspinetrees@gmail.com





Palau SBDC provides free confidential counseling to startup and existing businesses.  One of the primary uses of services is to assist interested loan applicants with their business plans which are needed to determine feasibility and credibility of the loan request. Similarly, the Palau SBDC offers trainings and workshops throughout the year targeted at individuals venturing into or currently in business as well as the general public interested in learning more on business.  




For more information about the Palau SBDC and its services as well as other incentive programs, please call 680-587-6004 or e-mail Ms. Lisa K. Abraham, the Palau SBDC Director, at lees@pacificsbdc.com.
You can also visit us at www.pacificsbdc.com to find resources to help bring your business to life and to learn more about the Pacific Islands SBDC Network and its mission.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Asu Smokehouse: Satisfying Customers One Plate at a Time


Sonny Orsini, part owner of Asu Smokehouse, passionately explained his dream of opening up a barbeque restaurant on Guam and the hard work that it took to get him where he is at now. At the time, Sonny was living in the U.S running his restaurant for about eight years. Nostalgic of the island life, his family, and the desire to reconnect with his culture, Sonny and his family made the call to relocate to Guam. Leaving his restaurant was difficult with all the time he invested and the work that he put in, but he thought why not do something that he loved while being surrounded by the people he loved. So, he called up his brother, Buddy, and they teamed up to make Asu Smokehouse come true.

Before reaching Guam, Sonny was already doing his research and trying to find out how he could go about opening up this business. He thought that Chamorro Village would be a great location and applied for a spot. Through that application process, Sonny sought the guidance of (former) business counselor, Frank Toves, at the Guam Small Business Development Center (Guam SBDC). He explained that Frank was instrumental in the technical and logistical assistance on top of the business planning in guiding him and Buddy. Furthermore, he stated that Frank really talked them through the process of how they were going to conduct their business, ways in finding efficiency, product costing, and clarifying their goals and objectives. Through multiple counseling sessions, Sonny and Buddy Orsini submitted their application and business plan and then were vetted and approved by Chamorro Village.


Asu BBQ plate featuring their mouthwatering
beef brisket with red rice, slaw, and homemade BBQ sauce.
Sonny and Buddy strive to provide a sustainable, value added product for their customers. As much as possible, they try to reduce their carbon footprint by not using petroleum, charcoal, propane, or electricity. Instead, they use a variety of tangantangan, mango, and a Filipino-indigenous wood, called chico with a sheet of newspaper and a match to burn a steady fire for over 12 hours. Sonny uses locally harvested sea salt from Inarajan Bay and his products are all made from scratch. Asu adds value to their products with the employees who handle them. Some of these individuals, Assistant Pit Masters, are from the Guam Community College Apprenticeship Program where Sonny and Buddy give lessons and hands-on practice on butchering, making sauces and rubs, fire management hazards and safety precautions, and high quality control. Currently, there are five employees creating and serving up delicious BBQ at Asu.

Asu Smokehouse brought a unique way of barbequing to the island that no one was doing. Smoking meats such as brisket, pork, and ribs overnight over a slow burning fire was what diversified Asu from other restaurants offering BBQ plates. Asu stands by “quality before anything”. They start off with the very best cuts of Certified Angus beef and cut no corners. This—along with other factors—has led them to win numerous competitions including Grand Championship for the Jack Daniel's Smokin Grills BBQ Competition 2014 and most recently the Grand Champion Grill Master at the annual Tumon BBQ Block Party held on July 5, 2014.

In the short run, Asu Smokehouse plans to implement greater efficiencies with the determination to always create a better product. They hope to overcome transportation issues that create personnel challenges. Their long term goals are to increase their product distribution and one day subcontract their wood. If you’ve been to Asu, you may have noticed their hours of operation sign, and yes it is true, they are collecting wood on Sundays.

Lastly, after touring the back-end operations of how Asu stores their wood and smokes their meat, Sonny wanted to share what he learned from starting his business to future business owners. He said, “Commit. Follow through. Be prepared to work like you have never worked before. But make time for family. Follow your dreams, because people will appreciate the amount of work you put in and what you have sacrificed. If you love what you do, then it’s not work.”

Asu Smokehouse is a restaurant located at the Chamorro Village closest to the Paseo Stadium entrance. They are open Monday – Saturday from 11:00am – 2:00pm and on Wednesday Night Market from 5:00pm – 9:00pm. For lunch special inquiries and to place your order, please call 671-979-1278 or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Asu-Smokehouse/256552447807246 or e-mail them at asusmokehouse@gmail.com.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you, please call 671-735-2590 or visit our website at www.pacificsbdc.com.


 

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Copy Center Opens for Business

By Geraldine Mitagyow
Business Advisor
Yap SBDC


The Copy Center, newest tenant of the Yap Small Business Development Center (SBDC) which houses the Business Incubator, opened its doors for the first day of business on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.  The Copy Center is a new start-up sole proprietorship owned by Anthony C. Tareg, Jr., which specializes in copying, printing and multi-media services.

Storefront view of The Copy Center
Anthony (Tony) was born and raised on Yap Island.  After finishing high school on Yap, he attended Palau Community College for two years and transferred to the University of Guam where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management in 2000.  He returned to Yap and started working at the Yap Media Division in various capacities including Yap State protocol officer and radio announcer.  After 10 years with the Media Division, he was hired in 2009 as the general manager of The Office Place, a branch of Copy Masters International headquartered in Hawaii.  The Office Place provides office furniture and equipment as well as small-scale copying and printing services.

 In his years managing The Office Place, Tony came to see a real need for copying/printing & multi-media services in Yap.  While there currently exists a couple of small businesses providing multi-media services on island, there is none that can do large scale printing & multi-media services.  Tony saw this as a business opportunity that can fulfill the needs of government agencies, private organizations and individuals that often have to place orders off-island for large posters and banners.   While there are many options for ordering off-island, these often require lead time and orders may take up to several weeks or months.   As Tony stated, “Providing these same services on island will meet the demand and need for faster “NOW” service.”  
Tony began discussions and negotiations with the parent company in Hawaii to privatize the copying and printing services of The Office Place.  The parent company was supportive of the idea with the agreement that The Copy Center would buy all its supplies from The Office Place.  It’s a win-win situation for both parties.
The process that led to the opening of The Copy Center is a lengthy and challenging one.  Just like any start-up, it required careful planning, negotiations, some trial and error, and just plain hard work and complete dedication.  Sometimes, however, fate brings in great timing, as happened in this case.  About the time that Tony had begun to put together his business idea, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) opened a Request for Proposal (RFP) to the public for the space and equipment at the center formerly occupied by an older Print Shop.  He submitted his proposal and was selected as the winner among several other bidders.  
According to Tony, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a great resource in the development of his business plan.  Business counselor Michael Gaan assisted him in “crunching” numbers to determine the feasibility of the project and to put together the final business plan.  But the biggest benefit, he says, is the incubator space which he is leasing for only $300.00 per month.  To put that in perspective, leases for most places around Colonia town range anywhere from $800 to $2400 per month.
 
Owner Tony Jr. left snap a quick photo with two of his employees.
While most business start-ups seek financing from lending institutions, The Copy Center is one exception.  Through careful planning and frugal savings, Tony was able to start his business without additional funding from outside lenders.  He personally invested his own funds as equity for the business.  As part of his proposal he negotiated a deal with the Yap State Government to take over the space which included copying and printing equipment formerly used by the old government-operated Print Shop.  The old Print Shop had been out of service for many years; consequently, the machines/equipment had been lying dormant as well and needed a fair amount of repair work. 
One of the biggest challenges in the start-up process for Tony is cleaning the space and bringing the equipment up to service functionality.   Countless hours after work and weekends were spent cleaning out the space and repairing the old equipment in preparation for the opening day.  But all the hard work is worth the triumphant opening day for the Copy Center.  As Tony put it, “Opening day is a significant accomplishment, but is just the first step in a series of stepping stones in the life of the business.”  The owner envisions the next steps to entail purchasing more machines to accommodate the demand for on-island printing for big-sized posters and banners within the next year.  After that, the Copy Center will start producing custom-made coffee mugs, T-shirts and other items with specialized printing. 
While the Copy Center expects the government agencies to be its biggest customer, Tony is confident that his services will fill an unmet need from private organizations and individuals.   One of the most frequently requested services that the Copy Center is already performing are customizing pictures of loved ones who have passed away.  Customers often bring in photos of loved ones and request the backgrounds of the pictures to be changed and ask for different blown-up sizes of the photos.  In addition to other services, frequent requests for oversized posters and banners give Tony assurance that he will have sufficient demand for his services to ensure steady business growth for the time to come. 

Asked what advice Tony would give to others who want to start a business, without hesitation Tony answered, “You have to give 110% to the business! While you may have a great business idea, if you don’t invest a great deal of your time and energy to it, you won’t be successful.”

If you are interested in knowing more about our services, programs, projects, and activities of the Yap SBDC, please contact (691)-350-4801/2 or visit our webpage at www.pacificsbdc.com.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The SBPA Advisory Council Recognizes Outstanding Team Members

The 2nd Annual School of Business & Public Administration Advisory Council Awards Ceremony was held at the SBPA Resource Room at the Leon Guerrero Building on October 03, 2014. Dr. Annette T. Santos, SBPA Dean (Interim) hosted the event where SBPA Advisory Council Chairman Mike Naholowaa and Dr. Anita Enriquez, SVP ASA opened with the welcoming remarks. The categories included Outstanding Administrative Staff, Outstanding Faculty in Research/Scholarship, Outstanding Faculty in Teaching, Outstanding Administrator, Outstanding Faculty in University and Community Service, Outstanding Outreach Counselor, and Outstanding Student Organization of the Year. 

 
Lorie Sablan demonstrated minimal absenteeism, sound time and attendance, and effective communication serving over 15 years at the Guam Small Business Development Center and was therefore nominated for the "Outstanding Administrative Staff" Award. Casey Jeszenka received the "Outstanding Outreach Administrator/Program Manager" Award for his positive feedback from community partners, and demonstrated securing of new community partners. Fred Granillo received the "Outstanding Outreach Counselor" demonstrated achievement of goals, quality of outcomes for clients, received positive feedback from his clients and community partners. We thank these individuals for their continued dedication and hard-work to the School of Business and Public Administration and the Guam Small Business Development Center.

The SBPA Advisory Council also recognized Dr. Ron McNinch with the Outstanding Faculty in Research and Scholarship Award, Dr. Fred Schumann with the Outstanding Faculty in Teaching Award, Prof. Ron Aguon with the "Outstanding Faculty - University and Community Service" Award, Mrs. Natasha Cruz with the Outstanding Administrative Award, the Junior Accountants Society received the Outstanding Student Organization of the Year, and Dr. Maria Ruane received Special Honorary Award. In addition, Ms. Fernabel Dela Pena was recognized with a Plaque of Appreciation along with Dr. Anita Enriquez for serving over 15 years at the School of Business and Public Administration.

Thank you to all the faculty and staff and congratulations to all the nominees and awardees for their continued dedication in providing quality service to our students and community and striving to achieve the University of Guam's mission "To enlighten, to discover, to serve."

Friday, July 11, 2014

Veterans - Marching towards Entrepreneurship

By: Kenneth Lujan
Branch Manager
SBA - Guam

Did you know that veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners?  According to the most recent U.S. Census Data, veteran-owned firms represent 9 percent of all U.S. firms. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employed 5.793 million individuals.  In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.

As we welcome back our returning troops and wish a fond farewell to those retiring from military service, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Operation Boots to Business (B2B) Program, an initiative to train veterans and transitioning service members in business entrepreneurship. Transitioning veterans are natural entrepreneurs, possessing the training, experience, and leadership skills to start businesses and create jobs.


B2B Group Photo: (Front row, seated, left-right):  My-Randa Quinata, Kay Harris, Rona Baluyot, Tyana Thayer, Teri Mendiola
(2nd row, left-right):  Frank Crisostomo-Kaaihue – Guam VBOC, Jorge Rivera, Richard Taitague – Navy Base Guam TAP, Conrad Baluyot,  Cleon Huskinson, Tony Mendiola, Angel Mamanta & Jorge Ramirez
(back row, left-right):  Ken Lujan – Manager, SBA Guam Branch Office, Doug Payne, Samuel Jones, Reinhard Sponseller, John Pangelinan, Robert Sherman, Fred Granillo – Guam SBDC, and Darroll Wiltz – Guam PTAC.
Boots to Business, or B2B, began as a pilot program in July 2012 and began to be fully implemented, with a rolling start across the nation starting January 2013. B2B is being implemented as a nationwide program to standardize entrepreneurial training to veterans coming off of active duty and re-entering the civilian workforce. The national rollout of Operation Boots to Business: from Service to Startup aims to provide exposure to entrepreneurship to the 250,000 service members who transition every year.

The SBA is a government sponsor of B2B offered in conjunction with the Department of Defense’s redesigned Transition Assistance Program (TAP). Part of the redesign is a new curriculum known as Transition Goals, Plans, Success (Transition GPS). Transition GPS is offered to service members separating from military service and provides preparation for transitioning to civilian life, including benefits information. Additionally, each service member may elect entrepreneurship as an optional training track.

B2B has been specially designed for currently transitioning service members. It caters to all paygrades, Enlisted and Officers, as well as military spouses and dependents.

SBA is always looking for volunteers to help mentor veteran entrepreneurs. If you are a veteran entrepreneur and/or enjoy working with veterans and would like to volunteer time toward this effort, please contact Kenneth Lujan at the SBA Guam Branch Office at 671-472-7277 to find out how! For additional information on other business services offered to veterans, please contact Frank Crisostomo-Kaaihue at the Guam Veterans Business Outreach Center (Guam VBOC) at 671-475-4900 or Richard Taitague at the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) Office at 671-333-2056/7.  Please visit www.sba.gov/contents/veterans.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pathways to Finance (P2F) Extends to Eligible Clients in Yap

By: James Limar
Director
Yap SBDC


A recently established partnership between the local SBDC and the Pacific Islands Trade & Investments (PITI) has enabled eligible clients in Yap to access bookkeeping assistance which aims at increasing the prospects of their business proposals. This newly added product to the SBDC’s portfolio is made possible through a capacity grant generously provided by the Auckland-based PITI which has piloted similar projects successfully in Palau. With the primary objective of enhancing the likelihood of eligible Small Micro Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) in Yap to gain access to capital, expertise is being sourced from a local service provider, D&G Bookkeeping Service, to mentor pre-selected clients to develop financials of bankable standards that will enable lending institutions to properly assess the credit worthiness of the clients as well as their proposals and thereby enhance their rates of approval.

 

The following are the key features of the new service being offered, which like other services of the SBDC, is conveniently made available free of charge:

·         Installation or revision of bookkeeping system

·         Mentorship in keeping up system

·         Consultation in financial reporting

If you are interested in knowing more about this newly available service, or other services, programs, projects, and activities of the SBDC, please contact (691)-350-4801/2 or email jamesl@pacificsbdc.com or visit our webpage at www.pacificsbdc.com.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Furniture Trends & Designs Inc. Providing Guam with Furnishings They Love & Need


By: Alice Mendoza

Student Intern

University of Guam

 


Sylvia M. Flores, proud business owner of Furniture Trends & Design Inc. began her business venture in the furniture retail and design more than 30 years ago. Before that, Flores attended many Home Furnishing Shows in San Francisco, Las Vegas, High Point, North Carolina, and the Neocon Shows in Chicago. She then took the corresponding course of the New York School of Interior Design. She gained the knowledge and numerous experiences in kitchen design, closet organization, and the use of colors in the home and offices. As Flores’ passion for home interior grew, she saw the need to provide quality, selection, and value furnishing for the community. Today, Flores owns businesses in both Guam and Hawaii such as an antique shop and a home furnishing retail store, and real estate and interior design services.

Through the help of the Guam Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Denise Mendiola-Hertslet assisted Flores by walking her through the process of setting up her business plans which she quotes “is very important when you need bank financing and understanding the importance in being registered to quality for potential Federal bids.” The start-up process was relatively easy for Flores because of her relationships that she built with the suppliers and was familiar with the process of purchasing and shipping. However, one of the biggest challenges she experienced in that process was obtaining a large sum of capital needed for inventory, shipping, rent, and operations.  In the end, she obtained some bank loans and through personal partnerships was able to fund her business. Overcoming those challenges was rewarding, but when the first container of inventory arrived, she considered that to be her most memorable triumph. Furniture Trends & Designs Inc.’s short term goal is to reinvigorate the community and their long term goal is to expand and infiltrate the island with the best quality and tasteful furniture they can provide that her clientele loves and that will fit their needs.

Today, Sylvia M. Flores continues to run Furniture Trends & Designs Inc while being a single mother of two and a grandmother of five beautiful grandchildren. To all other individuals interested in starting a business, Sylvia’s advice is to “Stay with the course, chase your dreams, and don’t be afraid of competition. Make sure that your ultimate GOAL is customer satisfaction.”

To view Furniture Trends & Designs Inc. furnishing selection, visit their shop located at the Appliance Galleria Building (Old Sears) in Upper Tumon from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can assist you start-up or expand your business, please contact our office at 671-735-2590 or visit our website at www.pacificsbdc.com.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Palau SBDC Partners with Pacific Islands Trade and Investment (PIT&I)


By: Lisa Abraham

Director

Palau SBDC

 

Gearing up to meet the Palau Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) mission in supporting economic growth through sustainable business development, the Palau SBDC has partnered with Pacific Islands Trade and Investment (PIT&I) out of Australia to continue to fund the Palau SBDC’s financial support services targeted for businesses currently in business one year or more.  Eligible businesses can receive consulting services through the Palau SBDC for recordkeeping/accounting set-up for better business management and/or getting help updating the businesses historical financial statements for application for a business expansion loan. 
 
The agreement between the Palau SBDC and PIT&I is to support business sustainability and expansions in Palau for the purpose of creating job opportunities and retaining job positions utilizing the Palau SBDC Financial Monitoring Services Program.

To be considered for the Palau SBDC Financial Monitoring Services Program developed for businesses in the Republic of Palau, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:


  1. Must be a client of the Palau SBDC.
  2. Must be a citizen of United States, the Republic of Palau, or any U.S. affiliated territories.
  3. Must be an existing business for a minimum of one (1) year
  4. Must be at least 18 years of age to legally sign any legal documents
  5. Must have a business legally registered under Palau laws & regulations
  6. Must not be delinquent on any lending institutions located in or adjacent to the Palau government
  7. Must meet the definitions of a “Small Business” as defined by the SBA regulations.

 

Apart from the Palau SBDC’s role with the financial monitoring program, the Palau SBDC also provides free confidential counseling to startup and existing businesses.  One of the primary uses of our services is to assist interested loan applicants with their business plans which are needed to determine feasibility and credibility of the loan request. Similarly, the Palau SBDC offers trainings and workshops throughout the year targeted at individuals venturing into or currently in business as well as the general public interested in learning more on business. 

For more information about the Palau SBDC or the Palau SBDC Financial Monitoring Services Program, please call 587-6004 or e-mail Ms. Lisa K. Abraham, the Palau SBDC Director, at lees@pacificsbdc.com.

You can also visit us at www.pacificsbdc.com to find resources to help bring your business to life and to learn more about the Pacific Islands SBDC Network and its mission.

 

 

 

 

 

Palau SBDC, Palau Visitors Authority, and PATA Micronesia Chapter Presents:


By: Lisa Abraham

Director

Palau SBDC

 

On February 11, 2014, the Palau SBDC, the Palau Visitors Authority, and the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Micronesia Chapter sponsored a compelling and exciting speaker at the Palau Tourism & Hospitality School on various topics relating to hosts/hostess to menu, basic customer services, table setting as well as the importance of remembering names of frequent customers.

 
Group photo of participants of the Table Etiquette training series with Mr. Christopher Bejado, center, owner of Guam’s PROA Restaurant and guest speaker.

Presentations by Mr. Christopher “Chris” Bejado, a distinguished and successful businessman and owner of the well-known PROA Restaurant in Guam, U.S.A. is a former tourism & hospitality instructor at the University of Guam. He discussed several personal experiences and expertise in the area to share with the expat and local restaurant, government agencies, and other interested individuals from the private sector.


The Palau SBDC, the Palau Visitors Authority, and the PATA Micronesia Chapter convey great appreciation to Mr. Chris Bejado, businessman/owner and PATA speaker for the opportunity to present to the private sector; restaurants, bar and general community on the various topics in “Table Etiquette” with a positive effect on participants.  “On the last day, Chris concluded his presentation and dismissed the class at 2 p.m., but no one wanted to leave! They all wanted more,” commented Lisa K. Abraham, Palau SBDC Director. 


The Palau SBDC is here to assist in the development of business plans which are highly considered to determine feasibility and credibility of loan requests through one –on-one confidential counseling and training seminars. For more information on Palau SBDC services, please call 587-6004 or e-mail Ms. Lisa K. Abraham, Director, Palau SBDC at lees@pacificsbdc.com or palausbdc@palaunet.com.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Women of Nomwisofo "Fin Nomwisofo"


By: Ketsen Haregaichig

Chuuk SBDC

Director

 

The Chuuk SBDC started out the New Year with a three day training with a group of women from the Nomwisofo Region. Eighteen representatives from four women associations from three different islands in the region participated.   Training topics that were covered included Quality System:  Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Marketing.  Participants were very excited and happy to learn new and crucial information about business practices and procedures, especially in the area of Quality System and Marketing.   A lot of discussions, questions and inputs from participants helped make the workshop more interactive and fun. At the end of each day’s presentation from the Chuuk SBDC staff, Ms. Concy Ruben conducted a 45 minute presentation on local herbs that can be used to cure, lower sugar level, and assist people with high blood pressure, diabetes and other non-communicable disease.

 

For more information on how the Chuuk SBDC can assist you, please call contact Cassandra Dereas or Director Ketsen Haregaichig at 691-330-5846 or e-mail cassandra@pacificsbdc.com or ketsen@pacificsbdc.com.

Healthy Food, Everest Kitchen!

Keone Chariton

Marketing Assistant Intern

CNMI SBDC



Laxmi Shrestha of Everest Kitchen has been on Saipan for more than ten (10) years and spent most her time working in the culinary industry.  When asked, why did you decide to start your own business? Laxmi replied, “I feel happy and satisfied when I serve my own food to people”. Besides her experience and satisfaction of serving her tasteful platters, as an employee she decided she had to do something for her family.

For Laxmi, owning and operating a restaurant is no stranger to her. She stated, “My husband and I established a restaurant in Nepal, and it turned out to be a success.  And during my time at Nikko Hotel, I learned how to cook a variety of exotic foods, from Indian and Western to Italian cuisines. “

How did the CNMI SBDC and other resources help you? Laxmi statesd that “Mr. Daniel Hann, a business associate, was the first person to lead me to the Small Business Development Center, and Mr. Perry Inos, Jr.  helped us a lot with corporate documents, marketing, business planning, financial management, human resources, and licensing.  I attended several SBDC business training seminars and all those seminars were helpful.  It was the most important part for me to start-up my business.  They cleared all my confusion and they helped me with every step.”

Although Laxmi is familiar with running a restaurant she acknowledged that starting a new business would not be an easy process. She said, “Opening a business was itself a challenging experience.  From finding the right path, financing the business, and marketing and creating new ideas were all part of my challenges.”

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process? Laxmi stated that “the day I cancelled my false start and the joined the right path with the assistance of others and the CNMI Small Business Development Center (CNMI SBDC) was the most memorable triumph in my start-up process.”

Everest Kitchen’s short term plan goal is to focus on improving quality of organic food and services provided to the customers. “I want to make sure that every customer I serve is satisfied with our quality of service,” stated Laxmi.  As for long term, her goal is “to not give up, whatever the situation in the future and to maintain high food quality and to target and serve more people every day.”

Lastly, her advice to anyone interested in starting up their small business is: “To get success we have to sacrifice, to work hard, and to keep moving on until we see our dreams become reality.”

For further information or reservations please contact Laxmi Shrestha at everest.ktchn@gmail.com or 233-2688.  They are located in Garapan, Saipan alongside Bridge Capital bldg. Hours of operation are from 8am-2pm.  They are also open on Thursdays at the Garapan Street Market from 5:30pm-9:00pm.

 

Want to know how the CNMI Small Business Development Center can help you? Contact Director Perry Inos, Jr. at 670-664-3018 or e-mail perry@pacificsbdc.com.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Walung Ecolodge


By: Skiller Jackson

Director

Kosrae SBDC

 

The Walung hamlet is part of the Tafunsak Municipality on the island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia. This hamlet was once accessible only by boat. Today, there are a number of ways to get to Walung. Due to the rugged and steep road to Walung, one must drive a four-wheeler or an off-road vehicle which could take at least an hour or more from the Kosrae International Airport to the Walung hamlet. It is only a 5-10 minute boat ride on a 40 hp outboard motor from the Okat Marina and about 45 minutes more or less to paddle on an outrigger canoe to Walung.

 

The Walung hamlet has no electricity, thus, most of the homes now have solar panels installed where one could watch the sunset while the coffee pot is heating up. A few years back, visitors must be watchful so as to return to the main village while the tide is still high. Even if you still want to enjoy the peacefulness, the isolation from noise pollution, the endless strips of white sandy beaches, and the sweet coconut juice, you need to get back to your hotel at the main village on the same tide because there was no lodging available in Walung.

The Walung Ecolodge is a new start-up business which was started by Mr. Timothy H. Jackson. Through the years, Mr. Jackson often times offered his house as a retreat to visitors who wish to spend the night in Walung. Even during the day a visitor to Walung needs to rest but could not find a place to rest. Today, it is not an issue anymore. If you want to spend a day or two or even a week in Walung, just enjoying the scenery or on a honeymoon trip, you are most welcome to rest at the Walung Ecolodge.

 Mr. Jackson came to the Kosrae SBDC for business assistance in starting a lodging business in Walung some years back. After a series of business planning and development counseling sessions, Mr. Jackson completed a business proposal for a lodging business and submitted the plan to FSM Development Bank for review. It was late last year that Mr. Jackson was informed by FSM Development Bank of the approval of his loan request and assisted in creating six new full time positions.

Mr. Jackson was born and raised in the Tafunsak Municipality and moved to Walung after he came back from college. Mr. Jackson is currently living and working in Walung as the School Principal of the Walung Elementary School. He is married to Mrs Amera Benjamin with 2 sons and 1 daughter.
For more information on how the Kosrae SBDC can assist you in starting or expanding your business, please contact Skiller Jackson at 691-370-2751 or e-mail skiller@pacificsbdc.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Neni & Me Owners Turn Friendship Into Partnership


By: Mae Acain

Student Intern

University of Guam

 


L-R : Kallen Perez, Laura Cepeda (Owner), Father Edivaldo da Silva, Flora-Rose Weakley (Owner)
Flora-Rose Weakley and Laura Cepeda, proud owners of Neni & Me, attended college in Hawaii together where they built a friendship that eventually led them to a business partnership. As college students, they shared the same business courses and participated in school organizations and business events that sparked their interest in entrepreneurship. Weakley and Cepeda both managed to gain knowledge about business through their education. Weakley has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Masters Degree in Secondary Education and Cepeda has a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and a Professional Masters in Business Administration. They both also have experience in the retail industry. Weakley has worked in retail stores such as Gap Kids Inc., Fantastic Shots, and other small retail outlets. Cepeda worked in the popular children’s store Gymboree and also amongst other specialty shops in the busiest and most prominent shopping center in Hawaii. Attending school and residing in Hawaii helped them find inspiration and gain knowledge from well-known mainland companies and business owners. When they returned to Guam, they decided to open up a business of their own. Cepeda and Weakley stated, “We wanted to have a business that would serve a need in the community, one that would foster growth and provide something for mothers like us on island.”


Just like any other business, starting Neni & Me had its obstacles. For the owners, their biggest challenge was finding time to focus on the business. Weakley and Cepeda stated, “We both had our hands full being mothers, working full-time, operating the business, and working to fit our customers’ personal schedules. However, everything came full circle and God had provided us with the means to juggle our demands.” With the help of the Small Business Development Center, they managed to make their vision come to life. Guam SBDC helped them understand necessary avenues to take and precautions when opening a business on Guam. Neni & Me was funded through personal investments. They started the business as an online-based company for the convenience it provided for mothers and it was both simple and cost-saving. Speaking from their personal experiences, they gave those who want to venture into business simple, yet encouraging advice: “Utilize your resources and do your research first before diving in. Also, remember the mission of your business or your passion that drove it. This is important because you will get caught up in the operations of the business that you may forget why you started. Never lose focus and stay motivated even when obstacles present themselves.”

As the business flourished, Weakley and Cepeda see their biggest triumph to be the joy they feel when mothers thank them for the help and service their business has brought. They went on to say, “The most rewarding thing about our business is serving our mommies. It truly is a joy.” Overtime, they hope to reach more mothers who have not heard about their business and what it has to offer. They want to continue to help educate mothers and provide them with resources as they go through a precious time in their lives.  They encourage mothers to continue to look out for what they have to offer in the future and they guarantee to keep things interesting.

To view Neni & Me’s product line, visit their website at www.neniandme.com or contact them at 671-777-1330 or 671-727-0070 or e-mail info@neniandme.com.