THE CMCA women from Suki Fly Gogo, Middle Fly and North Fly had the honour of meeting Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) advocate, Ms Penny Burns from Australia. She is a long-time resident of PNG being here over 13 years, working with various companies including Asian Development Bank, Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) and Monier Limited. She has qualifications in commerce and trade and has successfully advocated for PNG artisans and crafts from various regions of PNG on the global market.
She is currently the Executive Manager of PennyWise Consultants with over 100 SME developed in PNG as well as in Australia. Her recent visit to the Middle Fly region to witness a mini craft show in August – put into perspective the challenges our CMCA artisans are facing to market their crafts.
She did an informal data collection exercise during this craft show which showcased handcrafted bags, hats and other usual personal and household items. A visit to nearby villages further proved that artisans from CMCA have a lot to offer but require guidance to prepare the crafts for the challenging national and international markets.“Internal exposure will only occur when national marketing of the crafts and their artisans are promoted regularly.”
Information as shared by Penny will act as the initial basis for OTDF M&E staff to develop a formal approach to collect data to analysis and provide a recommendation for programs and activities if not policies to promote rural artisans in the CMCA especially for both female and male entrepreneurs.
Ms. Bala Tedumo a women leader and OTDF Officer responsible for North Fly Women’s programs said Ms Burns visit was timely as CMCA had creative artisans but needed support in marketing skills and knowledge. “We will workshop to the association members the requirements and also show what crafts can be sold on the international market hence (be able) to prepare well to conform with international standards.” Ms. Burns said selling the crafts to a tourist is a one off sale which only happens at a certain time frame during visits. To earn a living and venturing into an SME business is far more complex especially for artisans. Starting with supply and demand, the artisan must find a niche market where he or she can sell the specially tailored crafts. Only then can the artisan start to scale the business. She gave an example of three artisans whom she had secured international markets for, and from this experience said overseas buyers will only buy a product which pass quarantine guidelines and tailored for them. OTDF through its Business Development Department provides business advisory services to support SMES, Regional Women’s and Youth Associations to transition to full operational independence.