In late 2014 ABV ran a mentoring program for a group of small Port Moresby ICT businesses using our Your Enterprise Scheme (YES) SME mentoring model. The YES model consists of a month-long group coaching program implemented by two volunteers drawn from ABV’s registry of senior business professionals and small business owners, and combines business skills workshops with individual mentoring. Like all of ABV’s programs each individual YES program is customised in collaboration with local partners to ensure that it is needs-based and community driven, and so this YES was tailored to meet the needs of small ICT businesses.

Three quarters believed that the skills they learnt during the YES program had significantly improved the efficiency of their businesses, and half advised that they had significantly increased profits.

The respondents identified a range of business areas which had benefited from the YES.

Human resources management appears to be an area to have experienced particular change in most businesses. Two businesses have hired new people, while another participant considered that ‘getting a collective view from all three employees’ regarding important decisions had been an important operational change as a result of the YES. Another business decided to control expenses by putting the co-founders on fixed regular pay instead of simply distributing profits as they were earnt. For Marsh Narawec of Kumulsoft hiring a new employee was a big change of strategy:

“Previously we did not employ staff because we feared that we may not be able to pay them regularly because our income is not regular. In addition, we feared that if we trained them, they would ‘steal’ our skills and start their own companies. This was our greatest obstacle in growth. The YES program enabled us to overcome that fear and we took the risk. The new staff member was able to generate steady monthly income and we are able employ two more this year”.

ABV volunteer Allan Kindt talks to participants in the ICT YES in Port Moresby, 2014

ABV volunteer Allan Kindt talks to participants in the ICT YES in Port Moresby, 2014

Another area which has experienced change in most businesses was long-term business planning. In Mr Narawec’s words: “We were all over the place and not focusing. After the YES training we are now only focusing on promoting and selling our two key products”. According to Allan Pidik of Bahabis IT Consulting, “YES has given me more ideas and plans to expand to another business arm.”

Increased confidence was also a theme. For Iru Stanley Ora of VLITE IT Solutions, “sales and marketing are the areas I lacked so the YES training (in these areas) gave me the confidence to find clients and to convert deals.“ According to Mr Pidik YES “has given me confidence and courage to work hard in order to become a successful small businessman”.

Running a successful small ICT business can be tough but these small businesses have made important positive changes since undertaking the YES last year, and respondents indicated they would be keen to receive future mentoring, training or capacity building assistance from ABV. It will be businesses like theirs which will help build sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Papua New Guinea, and ABV is proud to have helped them along the way and will be looking at ways to continue assisting them in the future.

Australian Business Volunteers