“Two of my kids are at university,” says Ruai Tuam while standing at the counter of his small grocery shop in Rabaul, East New Britain. “I wouldn’t have been able to pay their fees if it weren’t for the business training program.”

Mr Tuam is referring to a ‘Your Enterprise Scheme’ (YES) small business training and mentoring program which ABV ran in partnership with East New Britain Provincial Administration in late 2015.

The YES saw fourteen business people from New Britain’s Gazelle peninsula, including Mr Tuam’s son Norman participate in a week of intensive business workshops delivered by two business volunteers – Liane Arno and Matt Stone. Following the workshops Matt and Liane spent three weeks visiting the participants’ businesses to provide intensive one-on-one advice and mentoring.

Mr Tuam has found a variety of the business skills he learnt to be useful, such as pricing, product selection, customer service, and book-keeping.

“These skills have really helped me,” says Mr Tuam. “We’ve improved customer service, moved into selling snacks, I know what my expenses and costs are, I’m confident of my earnings, and we’ve been able to sell a lot more,” he says.

Mr Tuam has also taken to making regular deposits at his bank, and the bank has noticed providing him loans which have helped him open a second grocery store on the other side of Rabaul. What is more, seeing his business was expanding the bank offered to make him a cash agent, meaning that bank customers are able to withdraw deposits from his business.

“Before the YES training I was struggling, my business was not expanding, and so it was a really good thing to do,” says Mr Tuam. “A lot of the people who did the YES have implemented what they learnt and I think it’s been the same positive story for them.”

Under its Small and Medium Enterprise policy, the PNG Government has set a target of growing the number of SMEs from around 50,000 to 500,000 by 2030. Expanding access to business skills training will be key to reaching this target.

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