Getting the right advice can be critical when you run your own business in Papua New Guinea, but it can be hard to find at an affordable price. That’s where Business Link Pacific comes in.
While Papua New Guinea’s larger companies are well served by the top tier consulting firms, general business advice for smaller businesses is harder to find, but is still out there.
New Zealand aid-funded Business Link Pacific is a matchmaking service between in-need SMEs and qualified advisors willing and able to help.
‘What we do is we go out and identify SMEs that have potential to grow and expand and employ more people.’
The service operates in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands but the goal is the same in each location.
Ask the right questions
‘What we do is we go out and identify SMEs that have potential to grow and expand and employ more people,’ says Apeo Timoci Te Ata, Business Link’s Business Services Manager in PNG. Business Link then sits down with the business owner to ask some questions, and runs it through a diagnostic tool to identify where they might need advice.
‘Asking questions about the different areas of the businesses from organisational management to business planning, from financial services to IT, I am able to identify operational obstacles and after that the business is sent on to the advisors,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.
Business Link has a network of 22 PNG-based advisors, who have been screened to make sure they are able to give the right advice. These are often SMEs themselves, so the program effectively helps two businesses at once.
For those SMEs that qualify, the program offers a 50 per cent subsidy on any fees charged, and also offers business training for small businesses.
‘There is also up 100 per cent subsidy for eligible SMEs that have been affected by COVID-19,’ Te Ata says. ‘Up to NZ$5000 [K11,465].’
The core BLP team is located in Auckland, New Zealand, and receives funding from the NZ Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s aid program.
The main SME issue
The main issue facing SMEs right now in PNG is simple, says Te Ata.
‘It’s the capital,’ Te Ata says. ‘They don’t have the cash flow to deal with their business and, at this point in time when we have the pandemic, it is very difficult for them.’
‘Banks are business-making organisations and, if you want to get something from them, you have to show that you can service their loan.’
Many PNG SMEs also struggle to get loans from banks due to a lack of savings and record keeping and Business Link aims to make things easier for them.
‘Anything they earn is just spent. Banks are business-making organisations and, if you want to get something from them, you have to show that you can service their loan.’
The program also aims to address gender imbalance in PNG business.
‘We will look at SMEs that are owned by women or SMEs that are managed by women. We take great interest in that because we want to support them,’ he says.
The program started in 2018 and was originally conceived as a five-year project. Te Ata hopes it may continue beyond its initial remit.
‘The amount of SMEs we have seen that are struggling to do business, there is a great hope that this program can continue on,’ Te Ata says.
The post Connecting Papua New Guinea’s SMEs to advice they can afford appeared first on Business Advantage PNG.
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