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Noni juice is having a real impact for Jason Andrew and helping his Samoan homeland, writes DANIEL HOY.

A PERFORMANCE review with a manager three years ago was the catalyst for Jason Andrew to take his career and life in a new direction. He was working at MLC as a practice development manager, looking after financial planners and doing some business coaching.

"My manager asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to be part of the NAB executive team,'' Andrew says. "He looked at me and said, `No you don't', which was refreshing. "He made me go away and really look at what I wanted to achieve personally and professionally."

Reflecting on what he wanted to achieve with his working life, an idea came back to him again and again. He wanted to do something to help the country in which he was raised, Samoa. "Throughout that process I realised that being Samoan, I really wanted to do something with Samoa,'' he says. "And Katrina my wife was the same. She is not Samoan, but wanted to help.'' His first idea was to use his financial background and set up a managed fund in Samoa, which is a tax haven.

After several meetings with the Samoan finance minister, it became obvious his first idea would struggle to get off the ground. It was then he remembered something from his childhood: noni juice. This is the liquid derived from the noni plant, a tropical fruit commonly found in the South Pacific that contains more than 150 nutrients.

"I had always known about noni, because when we lived there my parents and grandparents used it on me,'' he says. "Last year the industry sold more than $500 million of noni juice globally. And the biggest company supplying noni juice is the fastest-growing company ever. "Within the first seven years they did more than $2.5 billion in sales, so I knew there were good sales behind it. In Australia it had not been marketed very well and I saw it as an opportunity,'' he says.

ANDREW and his wife worked on their new business, Pure Samoan Noni Juice, for three years before Andrew felt comfortable enough to leave his job. "Part of the reason for starting my own business was because I wanted to be a bit healthier, have more time with my family, and that led to noni juice,'' he says.

"We had some meetings with suppliers and, finally, I resigned at the end of last year. "It was not that hard because I had thought it through. Because we had taken little steps I felt comfortable.'' The more he learnt about noni juice and the way it is produced, the happier he felt with his decision.

When he started looking for a business, Andrew was determined to find something that would benefit his family and Samoa as a whole, but he had no idea how much the industry he was dipping his toe into actually benefits the community.

"The way it works is pretty cool,'' he says. "The truck leaves from the factory and goes around to every village on the main island and because the noni plant grows wild all the locals just pick it. "The driver buys all the fruit from the villagers, then takes it back and processess it, so everyone benefits. "I didn't know that at the time, but that is one of the reasons it made it easier for me to have a crack.''

By Daniel Hoy, The Herald Sun, July 8, 2006.

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