Under the EU-STREIT PNG programme, FAO equips local entrepreneurs with knowledge, skills and practical tools needed to drive inclusive sustainable development for MSMEs in the Sepik region.
Wewak, Papua New Guinea – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as part of the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, has made significant strides toward enhancing the capacity of agripreneurs in the Sepik region. In a recent series of workshops, FAO focused on empowering micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to thrive in the region.
The first workshop, held in Angoram, East Sepik Province, centred on topics crucial for the success of MSMEs: group dynamics, effective leadership skills, and communication. The workshop attracted 38 members of the Kandangapma Women’s Business Group, a dynamic collective known for their businesses such as fish processing and marketing, sewing, and bilum making.
A key highlight of this workshop was the handover of the FAO-Thiaroye Technique (FTT) site for fish processing (fish smoking) to the Kandangapma Women’s Business Group, made possible through the EU-STREIT PNG Programme. This capacity-building opportunity equipped these women entrepreneurs with the skills needed to manage their working capital, including the FTT, more effectively and efficiently as a group.
The primary aim of this workshop was to strengthen women’s collective action and economic empowerment. By encouraging them to operate as functional cooperatives and assume leadership roles, the Programme seeks to amplify their influence and bargaining power within their households, communities, and business partners. Ultimately, this empowerment translates into tangible benefits for families and the broader community.
Ms. Patu Shang, the Gender and Youth Inclusion Specialist who led this learning session, succinctly summarized the Programme’s impact, stating, “When women become economically empowered through MSMEs, they gain a sense of agency, and contribute meaningfully to household incomes, thereby improving food and nutrition security, ultimately leading to a better quality of life.”
In the words of Verjulah Mowe, the assistant Chairlady of the Kandangapma Women’s Business Group and a workshop participant: “I have learned a lot about the roles and responsibilities of all group members, including leadership and my roles and responsibilities. I can now make a clear connection between good leadership and sound communication skills and the success of any group business.”
Continuing its commitment to fostering the growth of MSMEs in the Sepik region, FAO, under the EU-STREIT PNG Programme, conducted another workshop which focused on group business management and inclusion in Aitape, West Sepik Province.
With a total of 45 participants, including executive committee members of business groups and cooperatives, this workshop was meticulously designed to empower these leaders and managers with essential business management skills and tools. The 5-day workshop covered critical business management elements for small businesses, including business plan preparation, analysis of group’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis), cash flow projection, preparing profit and loss statements, and record keeping.
One noteworthy aspect of this workshop was the collaborative effort with government officers from the Cocoa Board, the Division of Agriculture and Livestock, the Division of Commerce and Industry, and the Fisheries Office. Their active participation enriched the training by bringing real-life cases and sector-specific insights into the learning experience, making it highly relevant to the participants and dynamic. Moreover, the participants put their knowledge into practice on the spot by preparing a business plan for 2024, including operations management of the working capital i.e. a fishing boat, made possible through the EU-STREIT PNG Programme.
Ms. Ayurzana Puntsagdavaa, the International Enterprise Development and Value Chains Officer who facilitated the workshop, says, “By equipping agripreneurs with these vital kills, knowledge, and practical tools, FAO is making a substantial contribution to the sustainable development of MSMEs in the Sepik region, fostering economic growth and resilience within the communities.”
She added that the workshops were part of a capacity-building series for MSMEs, and the efforts will continue in order to cover as many MSMEs in the Sepik region as possible. She also added, “The workshop takes a very flexible and demand-based learning approach whereby the depth and speed of training is accordingly adjusted based on the needs of the participants. Participants are also highly encouraged to learn from each other, given such a workshop intentionally brings together a well-mixed group with varying experiences in cocoa, vanilla, and fishery businesses.”
Mr. Donald Mulo, the chairperson of Koumete Business Group and a workshop participant, expressed his appreciation, saying, “The knowledge we gained is very useful, and the workshop assisted us in financial management and bookkeeping, which will help me greatly in managing my group’s business. I appreciate this training effort of EU-STREIT PNG.”
The EU-STREIT PNG Programme, led by FAO, is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country. It focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development in rural areas by enhancing economic returns and opportunities within cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains, as well as strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development.