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

Friday, June 20, 2014

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

By: Lisa Abraham


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

You can also visit us at 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


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 or

Friday, June 13, 2014

Women of Nomwisofo "Fin Nomwisofo"

By: Ketsen Haregaichig

Chuuk SBDC



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 or

Healthy Food, Everest Kitchen!

Keone Chariton

Marketing Assistant Intern


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 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

Friday, June 6, 2014

Walung Ecolodge

By: Skiller Jackson


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

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 or contact them at 671-777-1330 or 671-727-0070 or e-mail