Published by The Pacific Business Hub | By Cecilia Sagote of Seki Media
You can take the boy out of the village but you can’t take the village out of the boy.
That phrase couldn’t be more true when describing Managing Director Seiuli Simei Kolio’s approach to his Koko Samoa business.
Seiuli, 30, grew up in the remote Savai’i village of Sasina and is a village boy at heart. And it is his early years growing up there that forms a foundation for the business.
“I’ve just been very blessed in my life,” he says. “I had the best childhood in Sasina. I had the best youth in New Zealand and then moving to Australia at the age of 22, I was able to gain corporate professional experience as well which helps too.”
Now based in Melbourne, Seiuli runs the Koko Samoa business which he registered two years ago, whilst giving back to his beloved village where 14 staff are currently employed in Samoa.
“At the beginning, we had challenges building a team without a lot of monetary resources but I am so happy with our efforts. We have a solid team back in the village and abroad. We have a common goal and understanding and that is critical. It is so important to have the right people on your team and surrounding you.”
His 'Koko Samoa' branding with sophisticated and fun packaging sets his product apart from competitors and also emphasises the authentic quality of the koko. It is this unique packaging that is favourable with many of his consumers who also use Koko Samoa for such things like gift boxes and recipes.
“A lot of information went into the logo designs with the help of my colleagues Delsa Danielson and Reynard Muliaina. Stunna No Limits in Otara Auckland also helped with the final touches.
“We have to cater for the traditional Samoan market that appreciates simplicity while also having an eye popping quality product that is easily recognisable globally and relatable to our younger generation too.”
Another unique element in the business is the use of a membership selling model in addition to traditional retail selling and wholesale orders. The advantages of having a membership model include customer retention, regular income and predicting profits.
“My biggest priority at the moment is building our memberships of those that want to be a part of what we stand for and what we are trying to accomplish and that includes creating opportunities, especially employment, for our community in Samoa.
“For 12 dollars a month or 144 dollars a year, we will send you 12 Koko Samoa throughout your membership as well as other bonuses. We are working on exclusive footage of what becomes of the contributions our members are making. We have a collective goal and a collective effort to contribute to the progress of our Pacific people.”
Seiuli says his faith plays a huge part in the business’s strategy.
“Reaffirming my strength in ‘let go let God’, I’m a big believer that we are capable of way more if we don’t let fear or uncertainty dictate our actions. That is something I always try to remember.
“And taking that leap of faith - that leap being work. You must do the work.”
**Seiuli would like to dedicate this article to his late beloved relative Tui Tiupita Samuelu, one of his biggest influencers whom he credits for his constant encouragement throughout the years.**
For more Information about Koko Samoa visit www.kokosamoa.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into their business centre and have a cup of koko at 1278 Heatherton Road, Noble Park, Melbourne, VIC