In the most recent ABV Annual Report, we featured a story on small business partner, ANJ Fish Supplies, in the sea-side community of Alotau, Milne Bay Province.  

ABV volunteer, Robert Hill, worked with the owner, Judith Jonathon to develop a business plan in July 2013, and four months on ABV are pleased to report on the owners’ use of the business plan to access credit and expand their operations. 

Judith admits she is a woman of many ideas, and before Robert Hill’s ABV assignment, admits that she was running more of a family store than a fish shop. Judith is a mother to eight children and foster mother to five of her late brother’s children. She runs ANJ Fish Supplies from the front of her house on a street off the main road of town. The shop primarily sells fish, both deep-sea and reef fish, which she buys from local fisherman that live on the islands off Milne Bay.The fishermen do not have many opportunities to sell fish at the market or in their own communities, and Judith provides an important market for their fish. Typically these fishermen arrive with their catch in small boats or canoes in the harbour near Alotau market, and Judith meets them at the docks and purchases the freshest and largest fish.

With a keen eye for good fish, Judith inspects and weighs before paying in cash; a system which is favoured by fisherman who are forced by others to take credit until the fish are sold. She sells the fish to a range of customers from local villagers to expats, hotels and restaurants; and Judith caters to her customers by allowing them to buy portions or whole fish.

ANJ Fish Supplies Owner, Judith JonathonBetween June and July this year, Robert spent one month with Judith to assist her in developing a business plan for her store. What Judith needed was someone to help shape her ideas into reality and Robert provided Judith with that direction and confidence. Judith stressed “Robert taught me two things: focus and stock. He told me all the time ‘Judith stop doing and focus, focus on what you need to do and put your energy in that area.’”

As a result Judith purchased two additional freezers to supplement the one in her shop; through this purchase she is able to buy up on fish when the best catches arrive from her favoured suppliers. Only a month after Robert left Alotau, poor weather meant that the casino online fishermen had little to sell for a few weeks. Luckily Judith had two freezers full of fish she had purchased several weeks before. All of a sudden everyone was visiting her shop to buy fish and Judith made a large profit for the first time. This profit provided Judith with the opportunity to pay off her bank loan that had been a constant concern and strain on her business.

“Robert told me the loan is not the problem, stock is your problem. Now the loan is solved and the stock is solved, so now no problem,” grinned Judith.

Judith’s recent success also resulted in one of the local banks having confidence in the business and approved her application for a small business loan. Now Judith is planning on investing in some of the ideas that she developed with Robert. Her first project has been to build a separate entrance to her business from the street rather than people needing to enter her home.

“I need to separate my business and my home; this is another thing Robert taught me,” Judith comments as she points out some men sitting in her house. “Many family members from the villages drop in, and I need to be professional and make sure I know who is customer and who is family.” if your Australian business needs an online presence you should be speaking with the seo sydney specialist they are great at what they do.

Other plans include renovating her shop window and access area so customers can form a line and see all the fish and produce on display. Her shop also sells ginger, garlic, onions and soon potatoes from the mountains, ingredients which Judith hopes shoppers will purchase to go along with the fish. Judith also plans to build a filleting and weighing room out back, so that the shop is only for customers and the grubby work is behind. She has already sourced wood supplies and is negotiating with builders to realise her vision.
ANJ Fish Supplies Owner, Judith Jonathon

Judith also employs an assistant and hopes that soon this staff member will work in the store full-time, allowing time for Judith to manage her finances, build relationships with customers and fisherman to buy and sell more stock. In addition, Judith’s teenage daughter occasionally helps out selling fish, which she believes is a good learning experience for her in dealing with customers and other aspects of the business.

In her office, Judith pulls out her books that account for her stock purchases and her sales. Now everything is recorded and she is confident about being on track with the business and her bills.

“Robert and I were planning to also sell soft drinks and cooked fish, but I know I need to focus and what I am focusing on now is improving my shop and buying stock. I want to stay small and if I try too many things I will lose focus so these are ideas for the future.  I have a plan and now feel confident about my business and my future.”

Australian Business Volunteers