Pacific Business Center Program Wins Second Consecutive National Award for Technical Assistance

PBCP receives national award for assistance provided to Development Bank of American Samoa

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Dorothy Chen, (808) 956-2495
Pacific Business Center Program
Kristen Cabral, (808) 956-5039
Public Information Officer
Posted: Sep 22, 2003

The University of Hawaiʻi‘s Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) was recently named the recipient of the National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers‘ (NAMTAC) Project of the Year Award for technical assistance PBCP provided to the Development Bank of American Samoa (DBAS). This is the second year in a row PBCP has received national recognition from NAMTAC for its work in economic development and technical assistance, and the third time PBCP has received a NAMTAC Project of the Year award since 1998.

"The 2003 NAMTAC Project of the Year award is a tribute to the outstanding teamwork and collaboration that went into turning around the operations at DBAS," said Dr. Tusi Avegalio, PBCP Director. "Building local capacity and collaborating with other service providers continue to make up the cornerstone of how we are able to deliver affordable yet effective technical assistance for sustainable economic development."

The 2003 NAMTAC Project of the Year award recognizes PBCP for facilitating and executing a variety of business management strategies for DBAS, including: a review of financial management and accounting operations; installation of a new accounting system; training and development of staff capacity in using new technology; collectively revisiting, upgrading and reaffirming DBAS‘ vision, mission and core values through development workshops; development and implementation of a long-term strategic plan; creation, documentation and implementation of a new set of policies, procedures, rules and regulations; review and upgrading of a personnel manual for DBAS; management and supervisory training; and offering organizational culture, quality assurance, and customer service seminars.

The American Samoa government envisaged DBAS as a catalyst for economic, commercial and community development into the new millennium. Unfortunately, due to severe financial and internal management problems that had accumulated over the years, DBAS was faced with possible closure, a situation that was made worse with the threat of the withdrawal of federal and other funding at the time.

"Many of the bank‘s customers are low-income wage earners and the bank fills the much needed role as not only a complement to commercial banking but as a provider of alternative financing as a lender of last resort," Avegalio said.

Contacted in January 2001 by Mary Tulafono, chairperson of the board of DBAS, PBCP agreed to advise the bank and provide technical assistance. PBCP‘s assistance was well received and their recommendations made were put into practice with the support of Vaivao Etelagi, president of DBAS, and the DBAS Board of Directors.

Michelle Clark, PBCP project manager for the DBAS project, utilized students from the UH PBCP internship program and the University of Michigan Business School Domestic Corps program, along with UH staff and faculty to provide direct assistance on-site. DBAS management and staff, and the American Samoan people in general were especially grateful for the efforts of former PBCP intern and UH MBA graduate Umesh Bhandary who guided the technical assistance for PBCP on-site.

The Office of the Governor of American Samoa, U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), U.S. Department of Interior Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), American Samoa OIA Field Office, American Samoa Government Department of Commerce, University of Hawaiʻi College of Business Administration, University of Michigan Business School and Taʻalolo Lodge, a business in American Samoa, supplied resources, funding and/or technical expertise contributing to the successful execution of the DBAS Operations & Management Project.


PBCP ( was established in 1979 to provide governments, companies, and institutions in Hawaiʻi with business-related services (financial analysis, management reviews, business plans, etc.). Major funders of PBCP include the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Interior‘s Office of Insular Affairs and the UH College of Business Administration. The center serves Hawaiʻi and other Pacific Basin islands, including American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands. PBCP is currently bridging its program to the islands of the South Pacific and beyond. Papalii Dr. Failautusi Avegalio directs PBCP with program oversight provided by Dr. Joyce Tsunoda, UH vice president for international education.


The National Association of Management and Technical Assistance Centers (NAMTAC) is a not-for-profit association of 111 members in 41 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. NAMTAC ( provides advocacy, information, and a forum designed to enhance the performance of organizations providing economic development and technical assistance to businesses and communities.

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