By ROSELYN ELLISON
G RADE Six dropout Fred Lowa today owns three trade stores, a guest house, a restaurant and a mini supermarket.
He and wife Anna recently registered with the Investment Promotion Authority their new company called Fred and Anna Lowa Limited.
Fred, 54, is from Mamatanakunai in the Lassul-Baining Local Level Government of Gazelle district, East New Britain.
He and Anna have six children. His biggest priority today is to ensure that his children reach the highest level of education possible, and never to fall short in their education journey like their dad.
His eldest son has already graduated with a degree in tourism at the Divine Word University. The younger ones are still attending institutions around the country.
“I have set a path for my children through education, agriculture and business.”
After dropping out of school in 1979, he stayed home doing whatever he could around the house and village to help his parents and siblings.
In 1980, his father enrolled him at Ulagunan in the Kokopo-Vunamami urban LLG for a five-year correspondence study.
He returned home in 1984 after finishing school and secured a job with a logging company in Open Bay.
The logging company, noticing his commitment and determination, promoted him to log exporter in Open Bay and White Bay.
After a few years, he requested the company to put him back in administration work because he felt uncomfortable with the level of jealously and envy towards his success and performance.
In 1987, he became a Westpac agent and supervisor of trade stores in Open Bay. This was where he learned skills in business management.
While still working for the company, he asked his father to lend him K1,000 to start a business.
“In 1990, my father gave me the money to start a small trade store in Open Bay while still employed at the logging company. I have never looked back since.”
He also became involved in other business ventures, such as being the agent for Islands Aviation.
In 1995, he resigned from the company to return home and use his 30-plus hectares of land.
He ran his business and agricultural activities at the same time. He also used opportunities to sell cocoa, copra and oil palm for farmers.
Today, after more than 20 years of blood, sweat and tears, Fred and Anna are reaping the rewards of their labour.
They have three trade stores in Open Bay serving employees of the logging company.
In 2013, they opened the Vilua guesthouse with seven rooms which can accommodate at least 14 people. It provide meals too.
Recently, they expanded the business to Kokopo, opening a restaurant, plus a mini supermarket at Kenabot Stage Two.
For Fred, the memory of dropping out of school at Grade Six, plus the uncertainty, hopelessness and despair he faced seemed all in the distant past. But he knows that they had spurred him on to make a success of himself.
Some people who drop out of school fall on the wayside and never manage to get back on their feet quickly.
Fred chose to be different – and is savouring the sweet taste of success of today.
Fred Lowa (centre front in green shirt) with relatives and public servants
in front of the Vilua Guest House he owns in Open Bay.