Women entrepreneurs in PNG face many complex challenges

In focus: Schemes for women entrepreneurs in Papa New Guinea (PNG)

Papa New Guinea continues the pattern to invest in its major economic sectors which includes – mining and petroleum, telecommunications, energy, financial services, logistics, infrastructure, manufacturing, agriculture & real estate development.

On the other hand, women entrepreneurs in PNG confront many complex challenges in setting up and growing their businesses. This is due to various barriers such as – gender inequality, lack of access to finance and societal challenges such as poverty and illiteracy. And, under the economic pressures of COVID-19 particularly, women entrepreneurs in PNG found it hard to survive their businesses.

However, there are initiatives are aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in Papua New Guinea (which has traditionally been a male- dominated society). By supporting women entrepreneurs, the government hopes to create a more inclusive and prosperous economy in the country.

Papua New Guinea has several government schemes and initiatives aimed at promoting women entrepreneurs in the country. Some of these are:

> Women’s Micro Bank

The Women’s Micro Bank was established in 2010. It is the only micro-bank in the country that provides financial services exclusively to women. Among the offerings are – loans, savings accounts, and other financial services to women entrepreneurs in PNG.

Source: https://www.womensmicrobank.com.pg/

> Rural Economic Empowerment Program (REEP)

REEP is a government-funded initiative that aims to empower rural women entrepreneurs – by providing them with multifaceted offering like business development training, access to finance, and mentorship. The program has been successful in helping women start and grow their businesses in rural areas of PNG.

Source: https://www.reep.com.pg/

> Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation (SMEC)

Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation – SMEC is a government agency that provides support and assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country, including women-owned businesses. It offers training, mentoring, and access to finance to help women entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Source: https://www.smec.gov.pg/

> Papua New Guinea Women in Business

Papua New Guinea Women in Business (PNGWiB) is a non-profit organization that provides support & networking opportunities to women entrepreneurs in the country. It offers training, mentorship, and advocacy services to help women entrepreneurs succeed.

Source: https://www.pngwib.com.pg/

> Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC)

The Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC) is a government-funded initiative, established in 2016, that provides support and resources to women entrepreneurs in PNG. It offers training, mentorship, and access to finance to help women start and grow their businesses.

The mission of the PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre is – to create opportunity for women in entrepreneurship and to help empower women from all backgrounds in Papua New Guinea.

PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC) has assisted women in establishing and strengthening their businesses. The WBRC is an entrepreneurial information and resource hub established to encourage an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem that allows women to access vital resources for economic empowerment.

Source: https://wbrc.com.pg/

> Stretpasin Stoa (fair-deal store) scheme

Following a small business summit in Kokopo near Rabaul in 2022, the PNG national government has now committed $56 million to the campaign. This will include the resurrection of the Stretpasin Stoa (fair-deal store) scheme that succeeded, in the early years following PNG’s independence, in fostering a rapid rise in Papua New Guineans gaining experience in the private sector by running retail businesses.

> Papua New Guinea Financing for Small and Medium Firms

It is difficult to get credit for small entrepreneurs, which is seen as risky and small businesses in PNG face difficulty obtaining bank loans. To increase the opportunity for these entrepreneurs, IFC, the World Bank, and the government of Papua New Guinea have teamed up to support up to $61 million in new financing for small and medium firms.

The joint initiative will guarantee 50 percent of the loans that banks extend to small and medium businesses, encouraging banks to lend more to the sector and to develop new financial products to meet its needs.


> PNG Microfinance Expansion Project

Since 2010, the $24.9 million PNG Microfinance Expansion Project has been expanding access to financial services in rural communities. Supported by ADB and the Governments of PNG and Australia, the project is building on the experiences and lessons from its predecessor – the Microfinance and Employment Project. Both projects are responsible for establishing microfinance in PNG. The Microfinance Expansion Project is strengthening industry regulation and boosting the capacity of lenders to deliver a wider range of financial services and products in rural areas, with a focus on lending, savings, and remittance products to micro and small enterprises, and especially to women.

Source: https://www.adb.org/results/banking-services-put-women-business-papua-new-


> Young Enterprise Scheme (YES)

The state-owned National Development Bank (NDB), the development finance institution of Papua New Guinea, after noticing the challenges youth face and, through its subsidiary, the National Development Bank Investments (NDBI), launched a programme called the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES).

The programme is targeted at those who are unemployed or unable to get into tertiary institutions, as well as those who, despite having high school or university qualifications, cannot find work. YES features include – small business trainings, loan funding and coaching over a 24-month period. It assists via mentoring and assessments with the opportunity to receive funding. The programme commenced in November 2014 and is endorsed by the Department of Trade, Commerce and Industry, the National Youth Commission and the Small Business Development Corporation.

Moving forward, NDBI is planning to open another business incubation centre for young entrepreneurs. It aims to provide young people with more funding – to let them start their business, and young entrepreneurs are supposed to market their products in the centre.

The facility will have – internet cafes and restaurants run by young entrepreneurs who are part of the YES Programme. A strong funding system will definitely encourage more young people to participate in YES.


> Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme

UNDP together with Centre for Arts and Innovation, Tool Boox and Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA), have officially launched -the Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme at the Center for Arts & Innovation in Port Moresby on October 26, 2022.

What will it do? The Entrepreneur Accelerator Programme will equip women-owned and women-led MSMEs in PNG with the skills and knowledge necessary – to take advantage of opportunities, strengthen and refine their business models, ideas, and execution.

The 6-week free training programme aims to inspire and engage women. Through innovations and skills that are essential in accelerating and developing their businesses, it will create an enabling environment for them to realize their potential through inclusive technical and vocational training.



WECREATE Challenge offers a platform for aspiring businesswomen – to build their businesses, create new jobs for Papua New Guineans and also become role models for young women.

The Challenge is a joint initiative of the Australian and United States Governments, supported through the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development Program.

Donor agencies, banks and women’s organisations have supported the Challenge,
generating strong interest in the program.

The Women’s Business Resource Centre – a key WECREATE partner – provides women from all backgrounds access to information and training on financial literacy and entrepreneurship, and help with navigating Papua New Guinea’s business landscape.

This will help Papua New Guinean women and helping them to improve their lives and
empower their communities.


> Supporting Women Entrepreneurs with Disabilities in Papua New Guinea PNG PWD Policy

The Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) updated the National Policy on Disability in 2015 – to develop a plan of action to target issues facing Persons with Disabilities (PWD) in PNG. In 2013, the GoPNG ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), committing the nation to pursue the convention’s objectives which focus on protecting the rights of PWD and providing access to services and support to improve the quality of their lives.

This policy brief looks more closely at the circumstances of women with disabilities (WWD), presenting business and human rights cases for enhancing entrepreneurial opportunities for WWD and offers recommendations on how to drive sustainable and transformative economic development that promotes inclusion and empowerment.


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