Friday, December 27, 2013

UN Resident Coordinator Meets YES!

Ms. Lubrani holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, anthropology and history of Africa from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. She has a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University and a Master of Fine Arts degree from New York University.

Previously, she was the UN development coordinator and UNDP resident representative for Kosovo, director of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in Brussels and regional program director in Slovakia. She was seconded to UNDP's office in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as deputy resident representative, and worked with UNIFEM in New York.

During her visit, Lubrani met with several Bureau of Youth and Sports Director, Melson Miko, as well as with several Youth Entrepreneur Solutions (YES) Program Phase II participants. Director Miko directly manages the Palau National Youth Council (PNYC) and is a partner with the Palau SBDC in overseeing the achievement of the YES Program Business Incubator.

The Palau Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Ministry of Community and Cultural Affairs (MCCA) work continuously to support Palauan youth and help pave the way to an exciting future of Palauan entrepreneurship. Though support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been received (in the form of seed money) to start on the construction of the YES Program Business Incubator, the present deteriorated state of the facility will require additional support from the community.

The Youth Entrepreneur Solutions (YES) Action Plan launched Phase 2 of its program on March 15, 2013. Their theme for this year’s business plan training and competition was: “Building the Spirit of Entrepreneurship.” The YES Action Plan was first launched in April 2012 and is a joint initiative under the Small Business Development Center of Palau (SBDC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

If you would like more information about the Youth Entrepreneur Solution Business plan competition or you are interested in supporting the launching of the YES Program Business Incubator, please contact Lisa Abraham at 587-6004 or email at

Friday, December 20, 2013


The Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network Director Casey Jeszenka announced that Fred Granillo has been selected as the 2013 State Star of the Pacific Islands SBDC Network (PISBDCN).
“I am delighted to make this announcement, and to recognize Fred Granillo for extraordinary contributions to the work of the Pacific Islands SBDC Network and to the small businesses in Guam,” said Casey Jeszenka.
Fred Granillo is a business counselor and the training coordinator at the Guam SBDC at the University of Guam. Fred Granillo was chosen by the PISBDCN for being an outstanding performer, making a major contribution to the PISBDCN program and showing a strong commitment to small businesses in Guam.
“It is an honor to accept this award,” said Fred Granillo, “and to have the opportunity every day to assist so many entrepreneurs achieve the dream of starting and succeeding in their own business.”

Photo by S Thibodeau Photography: (From L –R) Mrs. Georgette Reyes-Wiltz (PISBDCN Associate Network Director), Mr. Fred Granillo (Guam SBDC Counselor and 2013 PISBDCN State Star) and Casey Jeszenka (PISBDCN Network Director) at the ASBDC State Star Reception in Orlando, Florida.

A special awards reception honoring the America’s SBDC 2013 State Stars was held on Monday, September 9th in Orlando, Florida in conjunction with America’s SBDC’s 33rd Annual Conference. The reception was graciously sponsored by Constant Contact, Inc. Constant Contact, Inc. helps small businesses, associations, and nonprofits connect with their customers, clients, and members. Launched in 1998, Constant Contact champions the needs of small organizations and provides them with an easy and affordable way to build successful, lasting customer relationships. Learn more at

America’s Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) Network is a partnership uniting private enterprise, government, higher education and local nonprofit economic development organizations. It is the Small Business Administration’s largest partnership program, providing management and technical assistance to help Americans start, run and grow their own businesses. With about 1,000 centers across the nation, America’s SBDC network provided business consulting to approximately 200,000 clients, training for more than 400,000 attendees, and other forms of management and technical assistance to approximately 600,000 small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs last year. Learn more at

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nature Ambassador

By Keone Chariton.
Marketing Assistant Intern

Donna Rivera, proud owner of Nature Ambassador, arrived in the CNMI in 2001 where she began her journey in the private industry learning the art of sales and marketing. Becoming a successful employee as a sales executive, she made networks and relations with other businesses. With the inspiration of starting her own business, her passion for her business endeavor was found through Nature Ambassador.
Donna explains, “For the past years, from time to time I would have this business idea and just never got the chance or opportunity to materialize. Over the past months with my husband and friends, we have discussed different ideas we could do together as a business, not just because we have the time to do it, but more importantly, we felt the need to have a business that will create jobs for our church-mates.” She also mentions, “We don’t intend to make such a big promise, but that’s the very first thing that came to mind when we decided to start up this business.”

Growing up, Donna was always exposed to small businesses. “When I was young, during summer breaks I would collect duhat (Java Plum) or kamote tops and sell it in front of our house. While I was in high school, my family had a snack bar within our school.” Donna graduated at the Saint Louis University with a Bachelor in Commerce with a major in banking & finance, and a minor in entrepreneurship. “When I was in college, I stayed with my auntie in Baguio. She had a small store within the public market of Baguio city and at the same time we would deliver food to all the vendors there,” Donna recalls.
For Donna, starting a business was not as easy as she thought and the “SBDC has become my guide in every step of the way.” Through the personal attention and resources provided by SBDC, “it became realistic with me. I came to realize that attention to detail is very important. It’s not enough to just know how to sell; you also have to make sure that when you sell, you will not end up killing the business by not accounting for all the expenses.” Although SBDC helped guide Donna to create a business plan, she states that Director Perry Inos Jr. never stopped at just helping create a business plan but more importantly emphasized that we should not fear to follow our dreams. She says, “He believed [in] me and encouraged me to GO FOR IT!”
For Donna, her largest obstacle was the process of finding the right items to market and finding the right suppliers. She states, “It’s challenging to be going back and forth to communicate with different suppliers. But our faith and our dreams never stopped us from pursuing this.” The most memorable triumph for Donna was knowing that she was able to start this business and know that her family’s there to support her.

Nature Ambassador’s short term goal is “to be able to convince local business to support me by making my product available to their stores/shops for the local and tourist market.” Nature Ambassador’s long term goal is to expand their products to Guam.

Donna Rivera of Nature Ambassador encourages those who are interested in starting a business to “go to the CNMI SBDC office and get FREE consultation, you will never regret it”. She states, “It’s good to know that somebody is here to stand with you and think with you”.
Nature Ambassador is open on weekdays and weekends from 8am to 5pm, located in Navy Hill. For inquiries contact Nature Ambassador at (670) 789-1873 or via email at
For more information on how the CNMI SBDC can help you, feel free to contact Director Perry Inos Jr. or Lynette Sablan at (670)664-3018 or visit our website at

Friday, December 6, 2013

More Proficient Business Trainers in the Northern Pacific

By: Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)
The Pacific Island Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN) staff, participants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau, SBPA (Acting) Dean Dr. Santos, SVP Dr. Enriquez (Interim), and the SPC and SPTO trainers take a group photo after the Certificate of Completion of the North-Pacific In-Country Train-the-Trainer Ceremony on August 15, 2013.

Business entrepreneurs in the Pacific can now expect to receive better expertise from trainers in the areas of marketing, quality assurance and business development. This will help improve the export market readiness and performance of their enterprises.
A 22-member group of public and private sector trainers from the Federated States of
Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau attended the North-Pacific in-country train-the-trainers
workshop in Guam from 12–15 August.

The workshop was facilitated by two European Union (EU)-funded projects – the Increasing
Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) project and the Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity
Building programme (PRTCBP) – in partnership with the University of Guam’s Pacific Islands
Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN).

IACT and PRTCBP are implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and
the South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) respectively. Both projects are part of EU’s
Strengthening Pacific Economic Integration through Trade (SPEITT) programme.

The four-day workshop refreshed and enhanced the skills of the participants – most of whom
are engaged in training business owners and potential business operators in their countries. It
is expected that they will assist in the areas of marketing, quality assurance and business
development on their return.

This, according to IACT Team Leader, Samu Turagacati, is particularly important, keeping in
mind the high costs and difficulties faced by entrepreneurs in acquiring the services of
specialised business trainers.

‘Having well-rounded business trainers who are easily accessible to entrepreneurs, including
those involved in enterprises assisted by IACT, will facilitate the provision of the necessary
technical assistance and advisory services for enterprises to grow and expand. This will
contribute to economic growth, as well as generate employment opportunities,’ he stated.

Commenting on the collaboration with partners for the workshop, Turagacati said that IACT is
well-positioned to engage with key players in the economic development of the Pacific by
undertaking joint interventions on activities to support small and medium-scale enterprises to
maximize on business opportunities.

The University of Guam and PISBDCN were pleased and excited about the partnership
formed with SPC and SPTO.

‘It is our hope to work together more in the future to help build the capacity of the private
sector in Micronesia by providing more training like this,’ said Casey Jeszenka, Network
Director of PISBDCN.

Turagacati said that there may be a possibility in the near future for IACT-assisted enterprises
in the Northern Pacific to be part of PISBDCN’s client list in order for them to receive free
technical assistance when required.

The training was well received by the participants. They expressed their appreciation of the
outstanding delivery of the presentations and noted that the training was extremely useful.

One of the participants, Lisa Abraham, Director of Palau’s Small Business Development
Center (SBDC,) said that the workshop was a great opportunity to enhance her skills and
Workshop participants from the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands
and Palau, together with representatives of the University of Guam and trainers at the North-
Pacific In-Country Train-the-Trainer workshop.

‘This training was very important as I will use the tools, knowledge and information to assist
my clients on matters of quality control, business systems and processes, and the ability to
accurately quantify loss of business,’ she said.

Key benefits of the workshop include the enhancement of the marketing, quality assurance,
business development and teaching skills of the participants so that they will be better able to
teach clients and small business communities in the tourism and export sectors.

Lisa Abraham hopes to implement some of the things learnt at the workshop in the annual
training goals for Palau’s SBDC. This will involve conducting training programs to value-
added production clients, as well as to current and prospective farmers and producers.

The workshop was held at the University of Guam in Mangilao.

The IACT project is aimed at strengthening the export capacity of Pacific countries and
territories in the primary industries of agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and livestock.

For more information, contact: Ashley R. Gopal, Media & Communications Assistant - IACT,
Land Resources Division, SPC, Suva, Fiji (Tel.: +679 337 9492; email: );
or you may contact the LRD helpdesk:

The Pacific Islands Development Bank (PIDB) Open its Doors in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI)

By: Anel N. Philimon

The government of the Marshall Islands became a new member of the Pacific Islands Development Bank-PIDB late last year (2012) after a long waiting period for the signing of the membership agreement between the PIDB and the RMI government. Like the other government member, the RMI government had to pay for its share to become a member of the bank.

Mr. Aren Palik, CEO/President of PIDB, Mr. Casey Jeszenka, Director of the Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN) and Mr. Alfred Alfred, Jr. , Secretary of RMI Finance and representing the RMI government to the PIDB of directors agreed to utilize the RMI Small Business Development Center (RMI SBDC) and its host agency, the Ministry of Resources and Development to assist start up and existing business owners to develop and complete their business proposals.

In addition to the existing funding sources that the business communities in RMI have enjoyed for some years, PIDB brings opportunities to our doors. Recently, RMI SBDC assisted a few clients to obtain business loans from the bank. These businesses are start-up and existing/expansion ventures.

Thanks to PIDB and the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands for bringing the opportunity to our people, especially the business community. Komol tata!

Friday, November 29, 2013


By: Fred Granillo
Business Counselor
(Guam SBDC)

Like many kids growing up in Guam, Derrick Muna Quinata has fond memories of his Dad taking him to baseball practice or golf lessons or teaching him to ride a bike. Derrick rode the bus after school to his grandparents Bill and Ana Muna’s house in Mangilao where he would do his homework and play. Derrick had fun with friends and got in trouble just like other children. He was a normal kid. Some of his early memories are of accompanying his mother to work. Derrick’s mother Donna is a successful auto sales person for many years and still works today.

Derrick remembers running around SLC Motors (the old Ford/Mazda Auto Dealership) as a kid. He would sweep floors, clean cars and other tasks that afforded him the opportunity to learn the auto business. He remembers walking around the auto showroom listening to the different sales people entertain customers. He truly enjoyed the different vehicles, sales process, and dealership environment thinking “this is a great business.” The auto dealership was his second home, the environment was dynamic and he felt comfortable there.

Later, he went on to college and earned his bachelor degree in business from the University of Guam. Then, he worked in the technology field for a few years, and although he enjoyed and excelled in the work he was doing, something was missing in his professional life. Derrick is not sure why, but one day he decided to try his hand at selling cars and after rejection from some dealerships, Triple J Motors hired him as an auto salesman. He then spent several years with both Triple J Motors and Atkins Kroll, Inc. (Toyota dealership) proving to be a successful salesman by surpassing stated goals and earning high commissions. He has been in the industry ever since.

In early 2009 Monster Auto Corp. started operations with three employees that included the two shareholders at the time. The company does business as Guam Auto Spot. The business started with just 5 cars on consignment. They started out with a small loan to establish the initial office and hire employees. Derrick noted the start-up process and first year of operations was a rough learning experience. The biggest challenge was mustering enough capital to purchase some inventory and generate enough cash flow to keep operations open. This early struggle taught Derrick to rely on his ability to come up with creative financing to keep the business in operation while also selling cars and managing the overall operations.

Guam Auto Spot established a solid customer base with the military community and local working-class families who needed reliable, safe transportation at a reasonable price. These groups are the business’ core clientele and have proven to be repeat customers that provide additional customers through word of mouth. The business then moved into a new location at Anigua in 2010 and started a small auto repair service that also reconditioned some of the vehicles for sale, which allowed for faster turn-around times to sell the used cars.

The Small Business Development Center was there to offer advice on how to prepare a business plan with financial projections for the purpose of requesting for financing from the bank. Further, they provided advice on the financing process and how to determine the line of credit financing request. Given their goal of expanding the business, they needed to run their business more business-like through financial analysis if they wanted to achieve such goals. As a result, the business secured a line of credit with Bank of Guam and a Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) guarantee that enabled them to purchase increased inventory and sell a higher number of used vehicles to realize their goal of operational expansion. Thanks to the guidance they received from SBDC, Guam Auto Spot’s operations were able to jump to the next level.

In a few short years the company went from exclusively selling pre-owned vehicles, to offering detailing services, opening a repair shop to service vehicles, and offering after market products. In less than five years Guam Auto Spot became a full-service used car retail business. In 2013, the business moved into the new car market when they became the authorized Mitsubishi Dealership on Guam. The company moved into a familiar location, a former dealership location in East Hagatna to house this new car dealership. The new car operations started in September and the company is already seeing demand for the vehicles. Derrick noted the road to get where he has arrived so far has sometimes been bumpy and there were days when he wondered what he got himself into, but it seems that this is the path that he was meant to be on because of his passion for the auto business.

The company’s short term goal is to reintroduce the Mitsubishi brand back into Guam and achieve a respectable market share that was known for this brand when it was sold in past years. Another short term goal is the expansion of the service repair and maintenance segment for both new and used vehicles. The long term goal for the business is the expansion into additional brand name vehicles not currently offered on Guam.

The success of this business would not be possible without the support and guidance of the company’s other shareholder and officer, Annmarie Muna. She is an accomplished and successful businesswoman that is playing a key part in the company’s growth and development. Derrick describes the support he receives from his wife Kelly and children is amazing as they are the reason that he remains focused on the business and its growth. Derrick acknowledges his parents, John and Donna Muna Quinata, made him who he is today and he will always be grateful for the wisdom, patience, and unwavering support they have always provided.

The advice Derrick offers to others who want to start a business is have a solid business plan, plan for adequate capitalization, and keep the operational expenses under control. Plus take the time to educate oneself on the effective management of people and assets as this provides the best opportunity to achieve more. Further, he advises on having a vision, patience and perseverance as many times tasks may not be completed as expected and goals will take time to be accomplished. As he noted, businesses are not built overnight so don’t give up and success will come.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can help you, give us a call at (671)735-2590/8 or visit our website at

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Risha Aguon, MA, IMFT Opens Private Practice

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

You could say she had it all…beauty, brains, and brawn. But the one thing Risha Aguon dreamt about the most was to have her own business. After much determination and hard work, she was handed the keys to
her very first office space. When I asked her to be interviewed for this article, she began by telling me about the loves of her life. Risha has a beautiful eighteen-month old son, Sabian Aguon-Calvo. Her parents are Ronald and Elaine Aguon and her grandparents are Edward and Katherine Aguon and James and Maria Marques. Risha is a licensed individual marriage and family therapist and has been licensed for 2 years now. She received her graduate degree and training from Argosy University in San Diego and completed her post-graduate internship at the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Superior Court of Guam.

Why did you decide to start your own business?
RA: Opening a private practice has always been a dream since going into this field but it was not until I gave birth to my son and become a single parent that I was compelled to make my dream a reality.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
RA: As a Therapist, I have extensive experience. As a businesswoman, I had zero experience coming into it.
How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
RA: As I was contemplating starting my own practice, I called Guam SBDC to find out information. When I called and explained my situation, they set me up with an appointment right away and provided me with unconditional support and direction from there. When I think about my experience with SBDC I think about the tremendous amount of encouragement I received. I walked in having an immense fear of starting something alone with no experience and was pretty much told, “you can do this and we can help you.” I was given answers to all my questions or information on where I can get those answers.

What was the start-up process like?
RA: The start-up process was tough it involved a great deal of questions, research, paperwork, networking, applications, certifications, driving, running around, money and maybe some other things I can’t think of right now. Organization was crucial in the process.
How did you fund your business?
RA: Luckily I had a savings and family support. Funding was especially necessary in starting a business. From my experience, there was a good amount of costs that went into the start-up and thereafter. Although I have made some income, I still have more expenses.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?
RA: One of the biggest challenges for me was getting through the fear of “what if it doesn’t work out?” But the support I received from my family, friends, the community, Guam SBDC, and other professionals helped me get through that challenge.
The financial aspect in starting a business was another challenge. It is tough not having a stable income and finding ways to bring in income as a service provider. Thankfully there were other people and businesses in the community like Calvo’s Select Care and Take Care that have given me the chance to work with them. Also, learning to budget wisely and cut back on certain lifestyles has helped with this particular challenge.
And lastly, balancing the different priorities in my life. Being a new single mom is hard work and so is opening up a business, but thankfully I really had the support that I needed. And I had to continue to prioritize and work at my own pace.
What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
RA: There was definitely a sense of pride after my first session took place. I looked around my office and said to myself, “wow I did it.” Then when I got my first dollar I knew for sure I made something work. Not only has opening a private practice given me the flexibility to put in time and effort into each client it has given me the liberty to spend quality time with my child that can never be taken away.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
RA: My short-term goals are to hopefully gain more clients, continue to grow and learn as a professional and as a businesswoman, and to become a service provider for all insurance companies on island. My long-term goals are to be the best therapist/professional I can be and to continue to use my business to provide quality service to the community.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
RA: I encourage anyone who has the same dream to go for it. It takes passion and determination but once you see a chance and all the elements are in place take it and run! There are so many resources available and so many people willing to help. The opportunity for local businesses to open and prosper is out there to grasp!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cutie Petunias opens at the ASC Market Place

An Interview with Naomi Ventura, Owner and Designer

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

Please tell us a little about yourself:
NV: I'm a mother of 2 beautiful children and a wife of an active Coast Guard. My daughter who's my second child was born in April of 2012 and she was my inspiration to the start of my business.

Why did you decide to start a business?
NV: When my daughter was born, I couldn't find hair accessories or foot wear that she could fit so I decided to create them for her. Everyone loved the pieces I made as well so that's when I decided to start a business.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
Naomi Ventura, owner of Cutie Petunias, displays one
of her hair accessories.
NV: I'd like to think that I've always been a creative person. I was a hair dresser for a year and a half. I worked at Hairtown at the GPO in 2003 until I relocated to California in 2005. So instead of cutting hair, I now enjoy dressing hair.

How did the Guam Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
NV: I received so much helpful information at the SBDC. They assisted me with my business plan and helped me to cross network with business owners and other great people to know. They helped open my eyes to the goals I didn't think I could reach.

What was the start-up process like?
NV: The toughest part of starting a business for me was the business plan. It took me 3 months to complete.

How did you fund your business?
NV: For business start-up, I applied for the Patriots Express loan, through the Bank of Guam and that was surprisingly fast and smooth. I received funds 2 weeks after my application.

What was your most memorable experience in your start-up process?
NV: Holding my Business license was my moment of triumph. It was the start of my business and endless possibilities.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business?
NV: My advice to others is, if you feel you have a great idea for a business, move forward with it. At least to take a step and contact the Guam SBDC for advice!

Friday, October 25, 2013

YES Participants Visit with Local Entrepreneurs

By: Lisa Abraham
(Palau SBDC)

The Youth Entrepreneur Solutions (YES) business plan competition hit the road and made several visits to local businesses and entrepreneurs.

YES participants a quick photo with Emerlita Kerradel after
discussing topics on spiritual guidance.
The participants were fortunate enough to meet with Omadsu Ueki, owner of 7 Degrees North, and manager Brent Ueki. 7 Degrees North is a local vodka distillery and brainchild of Omadasu Ueki. Mr. Omdasu has spoken to YES participants in the past about the help he has received from the Palau Small Business Development Center (Palau SBDC). The Uekis currently produce vodka in five flavors and proudly market their product with the “Made in Palau” label.

YES Phase II participants were also able to visit General Manager, Andrrea Vereen of The Cliff Side Hotel to learn about the lodging and accommodation industry in Palau; Comptroller Carol Ngiradis and her stellar team of Dolphin’s Pacific Eco Tour where the participants were able to see a combination of tourism and environmental protection, and Kotra Bedor owner and manager of Kotra’s recording studio where the participants had a chance to meet a fellow youth entrepreneur who has been featured in the local media for his exceptional talent.

The YES Phase II participants have diverse backgrounds and have an even more diverse set of business ideas and dreams which they intend to follow.

If you would like more information about the Youth Entrepreneur Solution Business Plan competition of the Palau Small Business Development Center, please contact Lisa Abraham at (680)587-6004 or e-mail at You can also stay up-to-date on all their activities by visiting their Facebook site:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Office Creativity

By: Fred Granillo
Business Counselor
(Guam SBDC)

Jesse S. Lujan, 37, resides in Barrigada with his wife, Mariann T. Lujan and their three children, Brandon 16, Serenity 8, and Zahavah 1. Lujan enjoys outdoor sports and off-roading, but most importantly enjoys spending time with his family.
When asked why he decided to start his own business, Lujan replied, “I have been working in the furniture industry for over 15 years and it has been a lifelong dream to owning my own company. When the opportunity arose, I did not hesitate to take that leap.” With over 15 years in the furniture industry, he has worked on office designing, sales, and installation. Lujan has had the opportunity to deal with many different manufacturers and different types of furnishing. Furnishings vary from rotating files systems, cubicles, free standing desks and seating to pallet racking and shelving. He has also worked on IT items as well as construction. In his experience then and now, he has dealt with different entities including the federal and local government as well as the private sector.

The Small Business Development Center played a pivotal role in the start of his business planning. With the help and expertise of Fred Granillo, he received guidance in creating his business plan, understanding the tax process, and all the basic needs in starting his own business. SBDC also helped him with the SBA loan applications and processes.

Lujan describes the start-up process. “In the beginning it was quite intimidating. There were so many things that I needed to do in order to get started. Start off capital is important when starting a business. This I would say was my biggest hurdle, as when I started I no longer had the residual income I was used to when I was just an employee. Much of the start-up funding came from our family savings. It was a sacrifice for my family and me during this time. But we knew that in the long run it will pay-off.”

When Lujan first started his business, funding came from family savings that were intended to use for a family vacation this past summer. With the help of SBDC and SBA, he was able to acquire a credit line with Bank of Guam. One of the biggest challenges, Lujan stated, was getting the word out that he was in business. Being a new name and a new business, he had to work harder to establish his clients. When there are challenges, triumph is usually just around the corner. For Lujan, his most memorable triumph was when he received his first job from Nanbo’s Insurance, just a week after he officially opened. This opportunity gave him the confidence that things will go well.

In every business, there are goals to be made and accomplished. Lujan stated that his short-term plans for Office Creativity include establishing more consistent marketing strategies so customers are aware that they have another option for all their office needs. His long-term plans include expanding office space and carrying inventory for immediate customer needs.

We asked Lujan “What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?” He responded, “Follow your intuition and believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and most of all take advantage of the programs available through SBDC. Overall, don’t be afraid to take chances and jump on opportunities when they arise.”

For more information about Small Business Development Center contact (671)735-2590 or visit our website at

Friday, October 11, 2013

Custom Fitness and CrossFit Gof Metgot Opens in Anigua

An interview with Samantha King Sablan, co-owner

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

Custom Fitness and CrossFit Gof Metgot is a family-owned, woman-owned small business. The business partners are Samantha King Sablan (married to Matthew Sablan with one daughter, Matea Grace), brother-in-law Steven (married to Maria DeVille with two sons, Stevie Joe and Rocco) and his godbrother Paul Claros, along with his twin, Ryan Claros.

Custom Fitness Co-owners: Ryan Claros, Samantha King Sablan, and Paul Claros. Not pictured: Co-owner Steven Sablan

Why did you decide to start your own business?
SS: Paul and Ryan had always dreamt of opening their own fitness facility. When Ryan completed his Doctorate of Physical Therapy, he finally moved home after more than a decade away, to turn that dream into a reality. Seeing that they would need help and wanting to keep it in the family, they recruited me to run the day to day operations, and my brother-in-law who is currently pursuing his degree in Exercise Science, to assist with the training and help develop a children’s program.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
SS: This is my first time owning my own business, which is quite daunting, but I do have experience managing a front office. Ryan, Paul, and Steven all have experience coaching, degrees in the exercise field, extensive certifications, and personal training experience.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
SS: We had our business plan ready but needed help fine-tuning it, as well as the expertise of someone who had experience with small businesses. Denise was a God-send! :)

What was the start-up process like?
SS: A lot of work! We tried to do as much as possible ourselves, and literally poured our blood, sweat, and tears into the business.

How did you fund your business?
SS: A combination of savings and private investors. Currently we are in the process of procuring a small business loan to fund our expansion into a physical therapy clinic and additional space for our CrossFit classes.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?
SS: Not knowing what to expect. However, we will be so prepared for our expansion now that we have an idea of what goes into opening your own business.

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
SS: Having people believe in our vision and our expertise. Developing a member base has been a great experience and we really feel like our community is a family.

What are your short-term and long-term plans for your business?
SS: Short-term goals include opening our physical therapy practice, kicking off our children’s program, and retaining members, as well as recruiting new ones. Long-term plans are to be Guam’s premier functional fitness facility, having the most knowledgeable and educated staff and continuing to better and improve ourselves and our facility so that we always have the best product possible. We also hope to continue to contribute to the island’s ecomomy by buying local, contributing to GRT, and eventually increasing our workforce by employing qualified individuals to be a part of our team.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
SS: Go to the Small Business Development Center and see Denise! It is a great resource and it’s free!

For more information about UOG-Guam Small Business Development Center contact Denise Mendiola-Hertslet at or 671-735-2594.

Friday, October 4, 2013

USDA Farm Service Agency offers New Loan Program for Farmers in the CNMI

By: Perry Inos Jr.

Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Lt. Gov. Jude U. Hofshneider, through the Department of Commerce's CNMI Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in partnership with USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) are pleased to announce loan opportunities for farming related activities.

According to FSA assistant manager Fred A. San Nicolas, “The new Microloan (ML) Program has less stringent managerial experience and income verification requirements, along with a simpler loan application for operating loans up to $35,000. The ML application is streamlined, but FSA's mission is to help individuals become successful agriculture business owners, and so we like to let people know they must have a solid business proposal and meet FSA eligibility, repayment and collateral requirements.”

CNMI SBDC director Perry A. Inos Jr., commented, “The CNMI SBDC is able to provide technical assistance for business planning through one-on-one consulting with prospective FSA applicants.”

From left: Perry A. Inos Jr., CNMI SBDC Director, Fred A. San Nicolas, Assistant Manager Farm Loan Program USDA-FSAA, and Ivan A. Blanco, Commerce Deputy Secretary
Commerce deputy secretary Ivan A. Blanco added, “These types of opportunities are a breath of fresh air for our local entrepreneurs. The administration, through Commerce Secretary Sixto Igisomar, continues to support these types of programs with the partnership of our Small Business Development (SBDC) office to assist the commercial and family size farms. I also applaud the initiative by the USDA-FSA to provide these types of opportunities for those already in the farming sector and those interested in farming.”

This program complements USDA FSA's Operational Loan Program that is also available which include farm activities such as start up costs and operational costs for family sized farms and commercial farms for purchases of livestock, agricultural products, machinery, seedlings, etc.

For further information, please visit the USDA-FSA website at:

In addition, you may contact director Inos at the CNMI SBDC at 664-3018 or as well as Fred A. San Nicolas at (Office of the Governor)
To learn more about the CNMI SBDC’s programs and services, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at

Friday, September 27, 2013

Locally Grown Produce at Thai Smoothie & Grill

By: Janay Laville Crump and Ayana Chamness
UOG Student Interns

Christopher Quitano had a dream to become his own boss and with the motivation his wife bestowed in him, it became possible. In 2010, after participating in the Guam SBDC Microcredit Training program, successfully completing the twelve-workshop program, prior experience in running a small smoothie business in Saipan and working in a purchasing department, he opened his doors to the people of Guam.

Three years later, Thai Smoothie and Grill has developed a loyal following of customers that crave their authentic local cuisine and fresh fruit smoothies. The unique feature of this mobile food business is that most of the vegetables found in their dishes are locally grown. When arriving at Thai Smoothie and Grill, one can see the display of the herbs and vegetables growing in small pots surrounding the canteen. There is an assortment of lemon grass, papaya, hot pepper, basil, spearmint, chafer lime, egg plants and Thai ginger. Your mouth will water with delight when tasting their green curry: fresh eggplant with a touch of coconut milk. Then, you can cool off by indulging in their ube-coconut flavored smoothie.

When asked why they grow their produce rather than buy, Christopher responded that the weather here on Guam makes it possible to grow your own herbs and vegetables. He stressed that he makes the time to plant what will be used in Thai Smoothie and Grill and also extends the benefits to his family. “There are some herbs you just can’t find in stores or markets.” This makes Thai Smoothie and Grill uniquely delicious.

Christopher wishes to expand his business for the natural reasons of making life more comfortable for his wife, daughter and two little boys, but there are other reasons that drive him as well. “Every (working) day is beautiful.” He mentioned that the comments from his customers about the food only inspire him to do more for the community and even open another mobile canteen. Through the years he had to make sacrifices to be as successful as he is now. “Don’t be afraid to open that door, challenges are always there, take it one at a time and don’t give up.”
Thai Smoothie and Grill is a small location with big and fresh flavors. It is best to order in advance, or you might miss out on their fresh spring rolls accompanied by authentic peanut sauce! They are on the corner of Rte. 4 and Dero Rd. in Ordot and open Monday through Friday, 7am-6pm and Saturday and Holidays, 10am-6pm.

For more information on how the Guam SBDC can help you, contact us at (671)735-2590 or visit our website at

Friday, September 20, 2013

Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee

By: Mason Fritz
Chuuk Visitors Bureau

The two-day “Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee” in Chuuk sponsored by Chuuk Visitors Bureau, PATA Micronesia, and Chuuk SBDC was a success with 18 representatives from private sectors, government, and Non-Government Organizations (NGO) participated. The customer service training started on Thursday, June 27th to Friday, June 28th, 2013 at the Truk Stop Conference Room.

Mr. John Calvo, member of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Micronesia and a PATA trainer in customer service, volunteered to conduct the Customer Service Training for Frontline Employee in Chuuk.

The objective of the training is to train the trainer. After the training, new trainers can go back to their respective offices or businesses to develop their own customer service trainings for their frontline staff with the assistance from Chuuk Visitors Bureau (CVB). Among the participants, ten represented the major operators - hotels, restaurants, and dive shops in Chuuk, three from government offices, and five from NGOs.

The set up of the training emphasized the practicality of customer service which was easy for the participants to understand and follow along. Chuuk Visitors Bureau opened the training everyday with a short customer service presentation by CVB Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer Ms. Yoko Kawamukai on Japanese language and specific customer services. The rest of the day was the main customer service training by Mr. John Calvo. At the end of the two-day training, almost all of the participants received a certificate of completion.

Chuuk Visitors Bureau, PATA Micronesia Chapter, PISBDCN – Chuuk SBDC, and Untied Airlines extend their congratulations and appreciation to the following businesses, government offices, and NGOs for their participation: Blue Lagoon Resort and Restaurant, Blue Lagoon Dive Shop, Truk Stop Hotel and Restaurant, Truk Dive Center, C&I, The Governor’s Office, The Election Office, and CWC.

The sponsors along with the participating businesses, offices, and NGO extend their appreciation to Mr. John Calvo for his valuable time volunteering to train the frontline employees in Chuuk to improve and develop new methods of Customer Service, the Chuukese way.

Friday, September 13, 2013

More Coffee More Business

An Interview with Kimberly L. Gilmar, Owner of Colonia's Best Coffee

By: James Limar
(Yap SBDC)
Kimberly Gilmar, left, with Colonia's Best Coffee Staff

Why did you decide to start your own business?
KLG: It has been a long-time dream for us to open up a coffee shop / snack bar. Also, we wanted to bring something different into the community of Yap.

What experience do you have in this type of business?
KLG: I was employed at a coffee shop called “Lamassatt Fresh” back in California for two and a half years. I also worked for the A & W Company which also dealt with other mixed drink products.

How did the Small Business Development Center and other resources help you?
KLG: I am happy to say that Yap SBDC is the enabler for our success. It is because of the business counselors’ help and support that we were able to put together our business plan and successfully get funding by the bank. Aside from the counseling and training assistance, Yap SBDC also accepted us into its incubating program which puts us at a central location in town to run our business from. It is that business support system offered by the Yap SBDC that helps and continues to help us tremendously.

What was the start-up process like? How did you fund your business?
KLG: Oh boy! What can we say; the process of starting our business was not easy work. From raising funds to obtaining permits, purchasing inventory, hiring employees to the actual opening of the shop, it took us almost 4 months. Our lender, the Pacific Islands Development Bank, on the other hand, was very generous and quick in its processing of our loan application which took less than a month to get approved and disbursed.

What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced in the start-up process?
KLG: The major challenges we experienced were the training of the new employees to get the exact measurement of the ingredients for drinks and the consistency in the quality of our products. Also, the marketing of our product to get new customers to try them out was a challenge.

What is your most memorable triumph in your start-up process?
KLG: It is the joy that comes with the accomplishment of one’s own dream on that day we officially opened our door for business.

What are your long-term plans for your business?
KLG: Long-term goals are 1) to not give up on running our business to the next level of success and 2) to expand to other locations on island and hopefully beyond.

What advice would you give to others who want to start a business at this time?
KLG: Good Luck! Anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Don’t give up! Talk to your banker, SBDC, your friends and family.

The Yap Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is an affiliate of the University of Guam’s PISBDCN supported in part, by the U.S SBA under a cooperative agreement. Services are extended to the general public on a non-discriminatory basis. Please call Yap SBDC at (691)350-4801/2 for assistance.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Green Flash Comics, Be a Hero

By Perry Inos Jr.

Glenn Keaton, proud owner of Green Flash Comics, arrived in the CNMI in 2002, where he was an instructor for the Northern Marianas College in Mathematics and Science. Glenn is a father of two wonderful children, Jack and Sara, and a humble husband to Susan Keaton. Growing to love the CNMI for “Saipan’s beautiful lush greenery, lovely tropical climate, clear air, and cleansing rain,” the Keatons have made the CNMI their home.
Glenn has been a comic enthusiast since the age of 12, growing to love the favorites such as Spiderman, Thor, Iron Man, and the X-men. He noticed the trend of the transition from comic to movie and  observed a growing market as more comic enthusiasts & collectors came about. Attending a comic convention in Dubai, he stated, “there were thousands who attended a much larger attendance than I expected, especially for a region that had no comic book stores.” Glenn saw a demand in Dubai and the CNMI. Glenn stated, “He would like to establish a reputation as a business in the CNMI, then utilize Gold Key Services, referred to by the CNMI SBDC, to expand operations to Dubai, what more then to bridge English literacy than Comics.”
Glenn Keaton’s experience as a comic collector and pursuing comics at many different comic retail stores throughout the years became his hobby. Now, “I would like to start my own business and have comic collectors & children purchase comics from Green Flash Comics,” stated Glenn.
Glenn says that “the CNMI Small Business Development Center helped with creating a definite plan for getting the business that needs to be considered. The CNMI SBDC outlined the process, starting with setting me up with writing a business plan that clearly described and set down costs and budgets, schedules and strategies, objectives and goals, etc.”
Glenn admitted that “the start-up process is a bit harrowing, and often scary; mainly because this is the first time for me to have my own retail business.” There was many processes to follow, getting “the business from an idea to a reality and I utilized my own personal funds to properly start up the business at a planned rate of preparation and growth.”
The biggest challenge for Glenn was finding the best location to fit his target market. “There were lots of spaces on Saipan for rent, but picking only one could be disastrous when they didn’t fit my budget needs.” The most memorable triumph for Glenn was “committing to my dream and turning the idea into a reality.”
The short-term goal for Green Flash Comics is to gain control in its market and to be known in the community by its marketing campaign. Green Flash Comics’ long term goals are to “contribute to literacy campaign in the CNMI by working with the local library, expanding their business to meet local needs, being affordable, and giving local artists an outlet for their talents, and then eventually expand to Dubai.”
Lastly, the advice Glenn Keaton of Green Flash Comics give to others in starting a business is “to contact CNMI SBDC. They will get you started in the right direction and give you a realistic outlook to your plans.”
Green Flash is open on weekdays and weekends from 10am – 6pm, located in Garapan, Saipan Across TSL Plaza 2nd Floor. For inquiries contact Green Flash Comics at or via email at
For more information on how the CNMI SBDC can help you, call (670)664-3018 or visit our website at

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Friday, September 6th (8:30am – 11:30am) **Registration & payment deadline 9/4/2013 at 12noon
“How to Start a Business”
Presented by Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
Fee: $20 per person
Location: UOG Guam SBDC RM #148 Leon Guerrero SBPA Building
SYNOPSIS: This workshop will help individuals learn everything they will need to get started, including an introduction to business plans and the importance of preparing one; exploring the legal forms of business (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability partnership / company) and which one is right for your business needs; local or federal licensing requirements for the business. Participants will be able to obtain vital information and resources to start and own a business. This training will take the mystery out of starting a business and help participants better evaluate their business idea!

Thursday & Friday, September 19th & 20th (8:00am–4:00pm) **Registration & payment deadline 9/17/2013 at 12noon
“Guam Export University 101”
Presented by Hawaii Pacific Export Council
Fee: $50 per person
Location: UOG Guam SBDC RM #129 Leon Guerrero SBPA Building
SYNOPSIS: Export University 101, co-sponsored by the Guam SBDC and GEDA, is a comprehensive training seminar that will teach you all major aspects of exporting while developing a global strategy for your business. Participants will receive materials and information that will allow them to create their company-specific International Business Plan to navigate their best markets! From industry experts to our very knowledgeable community partners, the Export University will help small businesses that are new to exporting as well as those with a blossoming international business grow their global business. Sign up today!

Thursday, September 26th (12noon–2pm) **Registration & payment deadline 9/24/2013 at 12noon
“WIB: Growth Venture- Reaching the Market
Presented by Denise Mendiola-Hertslet, Senior Business Counselor/WIB Program Coordinator
Fee: $20 per person
Location: Bank of Guam Headquarters 2nd floor Conference Room
SYNOPSIS: With literally thousands of things you could do to promote your business, what image, strategies, and techniques will create a connection with your market? This workshop will help you plan ways to reach the markets you have identified. We will discuss how to sell your product or service by exploring various strategies used by other entrepreneurs.

TO REGISTER log onto
TO MAKE PAYMENT online log onto your eCenter account and click PAY NOW
Cash, check (payable to University of Guam) & major credit cards (AMEX, Visa, MasterCard, and Diners Club & JCB) accepted.

For more information, please call the Guam SBDC at 735-2590.

DISCLAIMER: The Pacific Islands SBDC Network is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA. Requests for reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. For arrangements, please contact Nicole Tesiro, P.O. Box 5014 Mangilao, Guam 96923, Tel: (671)735-2590, or Email, Services are extended to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Sansrik Laundromat: NOW OPEN!

By: Skiller Jackson


(Kosrae SBDC)


Mr. Grant H. Ismael and his wife, Kenye, have been dreaming of opening up a business on their piece of land at Sansrik, in the Lelu Municipality. The couple has been residing in the Utwe Municipality for more than 15 years. They have passed through this parcel of land every day while going to and from work, visiting family members in the Lelu Municipality, and doing family shopping.

Front View of Sansrik Laundromat
Mr. Grant Ismael has been working for the Kosrae State Government for the past several years as the Administrator for the Kosrae Visitors Bureau. His wife used to work for the Kosrae State Government for two years as a practical nurse and a legal aid for a local law attorney for a year. Due to family obligations with their kids, Mrs. Kenye Grant refrained from her government jobs.

Around that time, Mr. Grant Ismael came to visit the Kosrae SBDC to start planning for a laundry business for his family. Along the way, a business plan draft was completed and left in his possession for almost seven years. As their kids matured and are now attending school, the couple decided to reactivate their laundry business plan.

On July 2012, Mr. Grant Ismael contacted the Kosrae SBDC for assistance in updating his business plan and to make the necessary updates and revisions to the cost of building materials and laundry machines. After several counseling sessions with the Kosrae SBDC staff, the plan was updated and sent to the Pacific Island Development Bank for review and comment.

Washers and Dryers at Sansrik Laundromat

Earlier this year, on February 19, 2013, Mr. Grant Ismael’s loan request for a laundry business was approved. One month later, the Sansrik Laundromat was opened for business. The Kosrae SBDC would like to congratulate Mr. Grant Ismael and his wife Kenye Grant for their efforts in making their dream become reality. The Sansrik Laundromat is opened for business from Monday to Saturday. Hours of operations are from 7:00am to 10:30pm. The Sansrik Laundromat has made life much easier for the Sansrik Community as they used to drive for at least 3 to 4 miles to the nearest laundry service.

For more information on the services and operations of the Sansrik Laundromat, please call the owner (Mr. Grant Ismael) or manager (Mrs. Kenye Grant) at telephone number 370-4900 or 370-7208.

For more information on how the Kosrae SBDC can help you, please call (691)370-2751, email, or visit