(From left) Pamela Peralta, associate network director, Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network; Jane Ray, business advisor, Guam Small Business Development Center; Cheery Fe Yeban, network program associate, PISBDCN; Laurine Q. Sablan, administrative assistant, Guam SBDC; and Denise M. Mendiola, acting network director of PISBDCN and director of Guam SBDC. (Contributed Photo)

The Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network (PISBDCN) at the University of Guam received a renewal of its accreditation until December 2023. The network oversees six individual SBDC offices throughout Micronesia, and every five years, it undergoes a review that determines if it is meeting the standards and requirements set by the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) and America’s Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC).

“We must be accredited or else we risk losing our membership with ASBDC and partnership with SBA. Accreditation ensures that we are operating efficiently and effectively within the standards they set.” said Denise M. Mendiola who serves as acting network director for PISBDCN and director for Guam SBDC.

In October 2018, an accreditation team consisting of other SBDCs contracted by the SBA conducted a site visit and interviewed the PISBDCN staff, advisory board members, the center’s host, sponsors and clients to assess the program.

The accreditation process also reviews how PISBDCN can improve its services. “The SBA has given us new goals to achieve this year. Right now we’re focusing on food security and the Micronesia Regional Trade Program — a five-year project to encourage regional trade and international export,” Mendiola said.

The PISBDCN exists to support the growth and economic development of the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands in the Western Pacific region by providing training and free business counseling to existing and prospective small businesses. Under the umbrella of the network lead center are service centers in Guam, Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau. PISBDCN is part of the ASBDC network with 1,000 SBDCs within 63 networks across the United States and its territories.