By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA – 30 OCTOBER 2020: The $14.3 million Samoa Commercial Bank (SCB) new headquarters was officially opened last Thursday night and dedicated to the first Patron of the bank, the late businessman Herman Magi Westerlund.
SCB General Manager, son Lemalu Ray Westerlund paid tribute to his father, popularly known as Magi who passed away 10 years ago, but his business achievements and legacy remain with his family.
“His guidance, sound advice, moral support and words of encouragement were very valuable at the early and vulnerable stages of the bank,” said Lemalu.
On the 11 April 2003, SCB was opened at the Methodist Complex at Matafele and both Lemalu’s parents Magi and Agamalū Westerlund officiated that opening.
The bank has since grown and its own building is now a landmark at its new location at Tauese.
Agamalū Westerlund, the matriarch of the well-known business family, going by the last names Westerlunds and Ah Likis, is the Patron of the bank. The opening keynote address was delivered by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.
Agamalū was emotional as she witnessed another milestone of her children’s achievements.
“I praise God for all his blessings on my children and family, my husband has passed on and we remain with what they have achieved,” said Agamalū.
She said it was not always easy from the beginning with so many children and little to rely on, but the old man’s perseverance to make a good future for their children has led them to where they are today.
“They started from humble beginnings and I pray they stay humble,” she said.
Challenge to open a branch overseas
With a state of the art building and a network of outlets and ATM machines around Samoa, Tuilaepa challenged SCB to invest overseas.
“Set up new outlets overseas as this will help support and secure partnership with international banks,” he said.
SCB started out on a ST$4.5 million and as of August 2020, has net assets of ST$366 million tala. It has 12 local outlets, 14 ATM machines, 141 staff members and 40,000 customers.
Safe and financially sound
Lemalu said establishing the bank was his family’s response to a challenge issued to them 17 years ago to have a business that has a role and contribute to the development of the Samoa.
“We have successfully executed and managed its strategic plans to put the bank to where it is today. It is now safe and sound financially and we deliver an effective service to the people of the country,” said Lemalu.
SCB has achieved one of its long term goals to build an affordable and good facility for the bank’s headquarters and increase productivity through its working environment and condition.
Lemalu also believes the banks design and location is an additional aspect to the development of the town especially with the Waterfront development project in progress.
The building was designed by Kramer Ausenco and constructed by Apex Construction company.
Despite the delays due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the work had finished on a high, and according to Apex Company director, Suluimalo Amataga Penaia, the only delay now is the installation of the elevators.
“The lock down has delayed the arrival of the technical experts from Fiji to install the elevators,” he said.
The lockdown had also delayed the target timeframe for the work which was June, but Suluimalo is happy that the work is finally blessed.