By Memo Hauke
FORMER public servant Kay Timothy now runs a family catering business her mother set up more than 30 years ago near Manasupe Haus in central Waigani.
She runs the Amoko Catering kiosk which is being frequented by public servants working in the area.
The business was started by her mum Martha Tanu Timothy in the 1980s when Kay was around six years old.
Martha used to sell ice-block at the Gerehu market. That changes when one day, a relative – a public servant who worked at the old Pineapple Building (now Manasupe Haus) – had dinner at the family home and really appreciated her cooking.
He suggested that Martha should try selling cooked food to public servants working in Waigani.
She did – until 2013 when she passed away. But she had exposed her five children to the catering business which still operates today from the central government area in Waigani where many public servants work.
“It started from five packs of food per day to a 140 packs of food a day because at that time, there was less competition in the catering business. Business bloomed as years went by,” Kay recalls.
A plate of food then was only 50 Toea. It meant that her mother earned K2.50 a day from the five packs she sold.
She saw a need to serve people there because there were no shops. People wanted easy access to food and she knew she had to cater for all of them.
“I always followed her around and wished to run this business when I grew up. Now I am and I am thankful to my mother,” Kay said.
“She had motivated me to be an entrepreneur and to be a self-sufficient mother to my children and to sweat to make ends meet for my family’s needs.”
She also thanks Coca Cola Amatil for the small red kiosk given to her in support of her business. She is currently cooking and serving a new dish – lamb or beef in red wine, garlic, honey and soy sauce mixed with corn, beans and onion. It costs K10 per serving.
She runs it from Sunday to Monday.
Her mother’s customers in the 1980s have just moved in to the newly renovated central government office in Waigani. They recently found out that Kay has taken over the family business. So they pay a daily visit to her to try the new dish.
Different from her mother’s but that special flavour is still there.
They think of her mother every time they taste the food and how she had brought up her children from what little she earned.
Kay is among small business women who the Government is supporting.
She now plans to build her own restaurant to sell only traditional food.
She hopes to travel to other provinces to see how other local people prepare their traditional dishes and bring their recipe to the restaurant.
“For us Papua New Guinea catering business owners, we are promoting our traditional way of cooking and at the decent price of K10 per plate,” she said.
“We are helping to boost our economy and also to be self-sufficient rather than doing nothing at home or waiting for the fortnight to come. Our daily income is constant.
She urged other women to also do business.
“All those PNG business women out there, we must lift ourselves and be at the forefront of doing business so that we promote our business and country.”
Her mother would have been proud of her today.
By Memo Hauke