An­dan­dis’ Strug­gles Reaps Fiji Mile­stone


mailife - - Contents - By JOHN MITCHELL Pho­tos SUP­PLIED

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.

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