Young Papua New Guinean woman, Janine Aringa Garap, shares the story of her entrepreneurial journey with the National Development Bank Investment's Young Enterprise Scheme. She and her peers in the program have chosen to pursue business out of necessity, due to the limited jobs in PNG’s formal sector, but they are also motivated by a desire to create more opportunities for their fellow Papua New Guineans.
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Many young people in Papua New Guinea have been marginalised and find it difficult to participate in the formal economy due to factors like; financial risk, family obligations and the mindset of big business in PNG. As a means of surviving in this developing economy, more traditional informal paths such as; subsistence farming, small food stalls or fishing, continue to be the most viable options for many of my generation.
The Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) is a program funded by National Development Bank Investments (NDBI), which is a subsidiary of the state owned National Development Bank (NDB). The program is endorsed by the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, the National Youth Commission and the Small Business Development Corporation. The program targets young people in PNG who have been affected by unemployment (despite high school or university qualifications) and provides them with the opportunity to initiate a small business. The program assists via mentoring and assessments with the opportunity to receive funding. This program commenced in November 2014 and I am one of their pioneering participants.
Below is a picture of the YES participants who made it through the first funding phase. We are receiving our letters of offer from the NDB. Of the original 150 applications, 46 participants were successful. Today, only three have successfully secured the second tranche of funding. My business venture was fortunate enough to be one of the lucky three to receive this funding in November 2015.
Photo supplied: Janine Aringa Garap
On 18 February 2016, the national Government launched the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Policy in Port Moresby. This policy was received positively and has served to highlight the Government’s commitment to the future development of SMEs as a more sustainable option for economic growth.
I was privileged to be a part of the ceremony and gave a speech on behalf of the young women of PNG, thanking the Government for the introduction of this breakthrough policy, especially as both a YES member and entrepreneur.
The SME Policy 2016 outlines the framework for SME development and was launched alongside the SME Master Plan 2016-2030. It is hoped that pathways will be created to allow more people to develop SMEs. Whilst, the new policy and master plan have answered some of the questions I had about my own business, I feel it hasn’t adequately addressed the issues I am currently grappling with at this early stage of my entrepreneurial journey.
Nonetheless, I am here now and I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent the youth of PNG as a trailblazer in entrepreneurship. I only hope my struggles and successes can be lessons to help other aspiring entrepreneurs in PNG.
I confess I have read both the SME Policy outline and Master Plan more than once as I do not come from a business, finance or accounting background. I noticed that the policy did not touch on competition between nationally owned SMEs. As a start-up food and catering business, my biggest challenge has been losing out on contracts to larger and more well-established SMEs.
I realise there are many factors that contribute to the successful selection of a company to provide services, however, as I have thought more about this issue many questions have sprung to mind. How do we enable a clearer selection process for service providers so that the contest is fair? How can we make sure smaller, less experienced businesses are given a chance to become a viable SME? With these questions I hope to start a dialogue and discussion about ways we can address this challenge.
Janine giving a tour of her business site. Photo: Australian High Commission Papua New Guinea
I was granted a loan via YES after a hectic selection process and the repayment plan has proven challenging. There have been many times when I felt like throwing in the towel. Fortunately, I was able to pay back the last loan I took out with savings from my previous formal employment. Despite the difficulties I have faced in paying back the loan I received from YES, it was this program and funding scheme that has ignited my desire to succeed and has fuelled my self-belief. The Government noticed my innovative idea for catering specialisation and has provided me with the resources I need and the opportunity to make my business profitable. I am determined to succeed, repay the loan and see my business grow.
The 46 YES participants, including myself, currently have the weight of PNG’s future on our shoulders. The ongoing success and implementation of the program relies on our own successes. A seed when sown does not grow overnight. The YES is a pioneering program and I am a proud guinea pig. I hope my success will encourage this program to continue as I believe it will benefit future generations of Papua New Guineans.
Janine studied Chemistry at the University of Papua New Guinea and attained her Bachelor of Science degree in April of 2011. She then commenced employment with Barrick Gold at the Porgera Gold Mines in the Enga Province of Papua New Guinea. She was employed there for two years before resigning due to personal reasons, as well as job satisfaction. In 2014, she joined the National Development Bank’s Young Enterprise Scheme to pursue her goal to own and manage her own business. She is still part of this program and her business, Binks Barbeque, is growing steadily.