Hela man smells success in business

Weekender

By PETER ESILA
AT least the dry and hot Port Moresby weather the last couple of months has made it possible for easy transportation on bumpy roads like the one in the ATS settlement of Moresby North East.
When it rains, that bumpy road is a nightmare, especially for the ‘last block’, according to a local shop manager Timon Piet.
ATS settlement is a well-known place of Oro people, however today, like in other settlements in the city, people of all classes and from all regions of the country do reside in settlements.
One of them is businessman Tanda Ajaku, who is from Koroba-Kopiago in Hela. And he is even fixing the roads, has already fixed a bridge in the last block where his new K70,000 trade store is also located.
Tanda early this month opened his new trade store known as Ajaku Trading bringing services closer to the people in the area.
Ajaku Trading is a 15-minute bumpy ride from the main Erima to Nine Mile highway.
The store opening was attended by local MP John Kaupa, representatives from the National Capital District, other delegates and witnessed by the local community.
Many dream of starting their own business, being their own boss. Some are already there, others are still discovering while time is ticking. For Tanda a father of 10, (three of whom have passed way) it is about setting the pace for his children.
He started small on a roadside table, selling the usual buai and cigarette in 2011 at ATS, then after months, started selling drinks, biscuits and sweets.
Years passed and Tanda was running a small canteen still at ATS while looking at operating a much bigger venture, like a trade store.
A Grade 6 dropout, Tanda really wanted to continue schooling and become a businessman like the “white masters?”
“I wanted to own buildings and a store. He opted out finding employment in the Warrawau tea plantations of Western Highlands.
Working as a labourer, tea boy and finally to supervisor earning K150 per fortnight in the 70s.
“I did not go to high school, I wanted to go but there was no way. I wanted to do business, one of my brothers used to work at the Warrawau plantation. When I finish school, I made some arrows and sold them and made around K100; from the village I went to Mt Hagen with that K100.
“I wanted work as a clerk and the white man said you are too small to work,” he recalled.
Tanda learnt many things at the tea plantations on how to operate and run a business. Years passed on and he ended up in Port Moresby.
“Then I came to Port Moresby, following these plantation and landowner money, millions of kina, I was wearing suits, neck tie, shoes, some are still chasing around this money. I am fed up, they gave me this K40,000.”
He spent these landowner money and left little to start his table road side market in 2011.
Today at his Ajaku Trading, he employs around five workers and plans on building more stores.
“I have this store only, I have plans on making one at ATS second block, and also one at the first block, I want to go to Gordon; I cannot just stay here. I have to make it big
“John Kaupa said there is money there for SMEs, Prime Minister James Marape is supporting SMEs (with K200 million SME funds),
“It is good that the Government is supporting SMEs because people need to be independent,” he said.
“I do not get involved in politics; I am business-minded but I am involved in the community, this is my interest.”
Like many good businessmen and women out there, Tanda reaches out to his community when they are in need. A thing for corporate social responsibility.
“I have this only one Toyota double cab, I help them to the hospital or during haus krai and in fixing a bridge.”
He even, made way for the extension and transmission of 2.5 km of electricity line costing around K1 million.
Last Sunday, he put his flat screen TV out for the many residents there to watch the National Rugby League grand final between Penrith Panthers and Melbourne Storm, featuring fellow countryman and Melbourne Storm centre Justin Olam who went on to win and add a premiership title to his CV.
Ajaku has been on a business journey that takes a lot of perseverance.

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