Business Community Finance Newsroom

From Sacrifice to Success: Tuluiga’s Remarkable Journey to Business Triumph

At the beginning of 2023, Besties, a multi-business complex burst into the scene at the heart of Apia, offering a unique shopping experience for customers looking to buy a wide range of pre-loved clothing and imported orchids.

Since the multi-business building opened, Besties celebrated another milestone when they became a sub-agent for No1 Currency and Western Union and opened its doors on May 4, 2021.

At first glance, Besties appears to be just another thriving business in Samoa’s capital with their latest expansion into rental cars and plans to open an in- store café this year.

However behind the success of Besties is the untold story of grit and determination embodied in a remarkable woman who was instrumental to bringing this enterprise to life.

36 year old Tuluiga Tuivasa-Banse, the co- owner and visionary entrepreneur behind Besties, stands as a testament to the resolute spirit of women in business.

Tuluiga’s early years were far from easy. Raised in a broken family, she and her six siblings faced numerous challenges, with their father leaving them when she was just eight years old.

Their mother, Lauvi Manu Purcell, a single parent, relied on her skills as a tailor to provide for the family in the village of Leusoalii.

Through her resourcefulness and determination, Tuluiga’s mother not only provided for their needs but also instilled in her children a sense of independence and self-belief.

Tuluiga fondly remembers the days when they would sell bananas or cabbage at the market, learning the value of hard work and resilience.

“We survived because of my mother’s sewing skills,” Tuluiga recalls. “She was the main tailor in our village, and that’s how she put us through school. We would sell bananas from our plantation or cabbage at the market to make ends meet. My mother’s strength and determination taught us the power of independence.”

Following her high school graduation in Samoa, Tuluiga journeyed to San Francisco with her mother, in search of better opportunities. However, fate had a different plan in store for them.

Just three years later, her mother fell ill, compelling their return to Samoa in 2006. Shortly after their arrival, Tuluiga secured her first job as a teller at Western Union when she was 19 years old, a milestone in her journey towards success.

Only a month later, tragedy struck as Tuluiga lost her beloved mother to illness. In the face of grief and solitude, Tuluiga found the courage to persevere, realizing that she had the power to shape her own destiny.

Reflecting on her mother’s sacrifices, Tuluiga said, “We didn’t have time to give back to my mum for all the sacrifices she made for us. She was only 50 years old when she passed away. This is why I’m very thankful to know all the people I have come across, and I’m blessed with the network I have now.”

Over the years, she seized opportunities for growth, climbing up the ranks at Westpac and the National Bank of Samoa. Her impressive rise culminated in her appointment as the Head of Financial Markets at the National Bank of Samoa.

“ While I was Head of Financial Markets at NBS, I realized this was as far as I could go in my finance career and the next step would be going for a CEO position but I wanted to do something for myself and the kids so business seemed to be the obvious path for me.” Tuluiga explained.

It was during her tenure at the National Bank of Samoa that Tuluiga’s eyes were opened to the world of investment property. Recognizing the potential it held for securing her family’s future, she took a leap of faith. 

Investing in land in Tiapapata, she secured a loan to build a house. But the burden of mortgage repayments proved overwhelming, leading her to make a difficult decision.

“The only other option was to move back to my mother’s land in Vailele and rent out our house at Tiapapata. It was very tough to tell my family we needed to make that sacrifice and when we moved back to Vailele we had to start again from scratch.”

This sacrifice would prove to be a catalyst for realizing her wildest business dreams. The rental income not only covered the mortgage but also allowed her to purchase additional land and build another house. 

In 2020, Tuluiga sold both properties, providing the financial means to embark on her next endeavor.

“That’s how I managed to invest in building Besties,” Tuluiga reveals. “Going into investment real estate helped pay off our mortgage in Vailele and allowed me to expand my business ventures. I always encourage my friends to invest in real estate because I’ve seen firsthand the financial rewards it can bring.”

Leveraging her relationships from her time at Fexco and No1 Currency, she reached out to her former employer and mentor, Fexco Samoa General Manager, Molioo Pio Molioo about setting up a sub-agent at the Besties building. 

Coming full circle: Tuluiga returns to her working roots but this time as a sub agent for No1 Currency and Western Union

“Molioo is a great leader and one of my role models. When I called him up and inquired about becoming a sub-agent, he was very supportive of my transition into business. When I went back to Fexco for training to become a sub-agent, honestly it felt like I never left and it feels good to go back to my roots.”

“The No1Currency and Western Union agent at Besties has only been open for less than a month and we are starting to see a customer base which is really great for Besties overall. It means more foot traffic and sales and it can only get better from here” Tuluiga says proudly.

Tuluiga’s ability to forge powerful connections and collaborate with like-minded individuals has been instrumental in her success. 

She attributes these skills to the invaluable lessons taught by her mother, who emphasized the importance of diplomacy and treating others with respect.

With every step she takes towards building on her successes, Tuluiga’s mother is never far from her mind and she continues to seek inspiration and guidance from her mother’s legacy of wisdom and courage.

“I learnt how to engage with people and be diplomatic from my mom. She always emphasized the importance of treating others with kindness and respect” Tuluiga shares.

“To this day, every time I get stuck with something, I think of my mom and I ask her for help or guidance. I remember where ever we went, she was always disciplining and instructing my siblings and me on how to behave and interact with people.”

“Even if people are unkind to us, she always taught us to be humble. This discipline continues to guide me in my interactions and decision-making and for that I am very grateful.”

You may also like