Andandis’ Struggles Reaps Fiji Milestone
STRUGGLES REAPS FIJI MILESTONE
An elderly couple from the western highlands of Papua New Guinea made their first flight to Fiji in June to not only witness a business milestone but to bless the launch of their son’s first company branch outside PNG. But behind Peter and Mopu Andandi’s maiden trip is a story of hard work, perseverance and drive. Peter was a subsistence farmer who supported his son Gabriel’s education in the 1970s and 1980s by planting and selling peanuts at the market in Hagen. As well as his peanut yields, he supplemented his family’s earnings by buying and reselling tobacco at the black market. “I pay a lot of credit to my father. He didn’t have a job or a qualification but he understood the value of hard work,” Gabriel said. Decades later, the couple who had invested so much toil and effort in their son’s education watched him open the 27th branch of Norman Finance Pte Limited in Suva with a small gathering of friends and family at Knolly Street’s Governor’s Restaurant. “I brought my two mums (mum and step mum) and dad for this special occasion. This is the first time they have travelled overseas together,” Gabriel said. “I wanted them to see Fiji before they die so that they can bless my office here. It’s not a good thing paying for a funeral service, buying a good coffin and having a good party when they are gone. I believe in doing things for them when they are alive.” Norman Finance is a money lending company established to specifically help civil servants (but also private sector employees) during times of urgent and unexpected needs. Repayments are made through direct salary deductions. The company has 26 offices in PNG. Owner and director Gabriel is a former teacher and his clients in PNG are mostly teachers. He holds a Masters Degree in Human Resources, Bachelor degree in Education and enjoyed an illustrious career in the civil service as a high school teacher. He also worked for the United Nations. “We have been providing this [lending] service back in PNG and would now like to provide the same in Fiji for small to medium class workers so that they can at least have some money to pay for emergencies that come up during the week, before pay day arrives,” Gabriel said. “I have virtually covered all the provinces in PNG. When I thought of venturing out into the Pacific, I thought of Fiji because the Fijian economy is growing and I also know Fijians are civilized in terms of repaying their loans. “I believe my defaults in Fiji would be much lower and I know I will get good return out of my investment in the next five years.” The Norman Finance office in Suva has been in operation for more than two months. Before the end of the year, depending on performance, the company hopes to move to Nadi, Sigatoka and other places such as Vanua Levu and smaller islands. “There are a lot of finance companies in Fiji, with three or four being PNG-based ones. Competition is healthy and good for business and our main aim is providing lending options for Fijians so they can choose for themselves which company to go to for a loan.” Gabriel is big on philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. Since 1997, he has paid the school fees of about 2000 students, amounting to around 450,000 Kina. Some students he has helped in the past have graduated to become accountants, engineers, doctors and lawyers. “When we make money through our clients we must also be seen to serve our community and people. I don’t differentiate between the people I help because I will get money back through blessings from God.” “I would like to tell Fiji that Norman Finance is here to stay. Our rates are reasonable, we are giving loans from $100 to $1000, our repayment schedule is up to five fortnights and turn around time is same day service,” Normal Finance office is situated on the 2nd Floor, Kwong Tiy Plaza, Mark Street Suva.
Gabriel Andandi and his parents interviewed by journalists on their Fiji investment.