24 July 2013

Samoa's new online Companies Registry reaches out to rural business

Participants from the Savai’i training seminar. From left, 
Olaf Weinhold, from a diving company, Dive Savai’i, 
Taalefi li Membrere, Sala Vui Sale, and
Backpacker Hostel co-owner, Tiauamafa Talamaivao. 
PHOTO: courtesy Samoa Observer
CONDUCTING business from remote areas of Samoa is now easier than ever, as business owners from Savai’i recently learned at a special training session on the use of the new electronic Samoa Companies Registry

The entrepreneurs learnt how different uses of the electronic company registry will assist them in running their businesses. They also received advice on how to quickly establish and maintain a company under new laws governing companies in Samoa.

“The new system is much easier to understand,” said Ms Taalefili Membrere, who heads up a 22-year-old business with 42 staff which includes a petrol station, construction and retail in its portfolio. After attending the Companies Act training session, she thinks the new laws will make doing business in Savai’i easier: “It’s very quick, and you don’t even have to leave Savai’i to use it.”

The new service was introduced by Government of Samoa in February 2013, following extensive local consultations in Apia and the provinces, and with the help of The Asian Development Bank (ADB) which supported the procurement and implementation of the electronic registry.  ADB in partnership with the Government of Samoa is conducting the training sessions for business people in remote and rural areas.
“The people of Savai’i are all too aware of the challenges of doing business in rural and remote areas. You feel the distance from the business centre Apia, and we feel confident the new Companies Act and online registry will help bridge that distance,” said Mr Auelua Samuelu Enari, Samoa's Registrar of Companies and CEO of the Ministry of Commerce, Industries and Labour (MCIL).

“The new, user-friendly electronic company registry will allow individuals in the rural areas to form and operate companies without having to travel to the capital, Apia,” added Ms Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB's Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney, Australia.

Mr Sala Vui Sale, involved in brick manufacturing with black sand blocks since 1999, likes what he’s seen so far of the registry.  “It looks easy, (it) is easy and looks professional.”

At the Savai’i training session, Mr Olaf Weinhold, from diving company, Dive Savai’i said he appreciates that the online registry sends registered businesses reminder emails to lodge their annual returns. “This will save us time and money.”

Samoa’s business community may use the service to register a company, update company details or make a company search by simply going online from the comfort of their office, home or a free kiosk made available at both the Apia and Savai’i branches of the MCIL. The registration process is paperless. 
“It’s great you can access the Companies Registry from anywhere, anytime, and even on a Sunday,” said Backpacker Hostel co-owner Mr Tiauamafa Talamaivao at the training seminar.

The new Companies Act in Samoa is part of a larger regional effort by ADB to work with Pacific legislators to modernize company laws and processes to ensure they are more suitable for small island economies. The new laws are tailored to suit the changing business environment and private sector needs in Pacific countries. The reform work is also helping to overcome the high costs associated with geographic barriers in the region. ADB has assisted the Government of Solomon Islands to establish a new Companies Act and Companies Registry and is supporting company law reform initiatives in Tonga and Vanuatu.

The regional business law reform work is part of the Pacific Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), cofinanced by ADB, AusAID and the New Zealand Aid Programme. PSDI is supporting the efforts of ADB Pacific developing member countries to encourage sustainable private sector-led economic growth.

More information, go to: www.companies.gov.ws

***

First published in the Samoa Observer, available online at http://www.samoaobserver.ws/public-service/6159-registry-reaching-out-to-savaii.