SPBD is a network of microfinance organizations working in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands dedicated to eradicating poverty by empowering women in poor rural villages with the opportunity to start, grow and maintain sustainable, income generating micro-enterprises.

An Answered Call for Help – A Heartfelt Thank You: Cyclone Ian Relief and Reconstruction

Posted on February 11, 2014

Date: Jan 30, 2014

On 11 January 2014 Cyclone Ian ripped through the Pacific Island nation of Tonga, devastating the Ha’apai island group. The cyclone completely destroyed more than 1,100 buildings in Ha’pai, and many more structures sustained major damage, including 13 primary and secondary schools. Electricity, water and communications infrastructure, as well as vegetation and crops, were severely impacted.

South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) Tonga, and its clients were also affected. Approximately one-third of SPBD Tonga’s clients on Ha’apai have significant damage to their homes, with the remainder of clients also directly impacted. SPBD’s Ha’apai branch office was completely destroyed. The staff has already moved into a temporary office space. SPBD staff and their families were also directly impacted by the storm.

Homes and lives must now be rebuilt, and a local economy made up of thousands of micro-enterprises also needs to be rebuilt.

We reached out for help to our amazing group of supporters – and you did not disappoint! You answered our call for help, and we are humbled.

Action and Next Steps
SPBD Tonga is in a unique position to help families that have been devastated. SPBD has been working in Tonga since 2009 and launched operations in Ha'apai in October 2012. SPBD has worked with 7,000 poor families across Tonga to provide them with small business and financial literacy trainings, unsecured credit for micro-enterprise development, and ongoing guidance and motivation. SPBD has also helped them grow businesses, save their hard-earned money, improve their homes, and ensure their children receive a proper education.

Since the disaster, SPBD has accomplished the following:
• Suspended all loan collections for SPBD clients on Ha’apai for the next 5 weeks (minimum) – loan officers communicated this to clients,
• Provided immediate relief (food, water, blankets) to staff on Ha’apai and all of their family members,
• Conducted a preliminary damage assessment of 250 clients on Ha’apai to survey damage to homes and businesses and to determine clients’ needs for goods/relief supplies, and
• Secured a new office space.

The program that SPBD Tonga is looking to implement includes the following:
• Restructure the existing loans for clients on Ha’apai.
• Provide new loans – reconstruction funds – for investment into re-building microenterprises and homes.
• Provide a direct aid handout to all 250 families in Ha’apai with whom SPBD works. This handout will consist of items such as water, rice, flour, sugar, toilet paper and other essentials that have been destroyed by the storm. There will also be a cash component. SPBD will purchase the items wholesale in Nukualofa (capital) and ship them to Ha’apai and deliver the aid packages door-to-door.

Thank you! Malo 'aupito!