By GIDEON KINDIWA
WITH the change in time and developments taking place, new ideas pop up and become knowledge when captured, tested and proven. The Gordon Market in Port Moresby has seen a recent reconstruction which would give a new atmosphere in the market place and thus, sellers and buyers would all play a part in taking care of the new infrastructure as well as creating a safe environment for business.
A group of vendors at the market have been given new knowledge, ideas and skills to lead a meaningful and purposeful life apart from their daily routine of doing sales to make ends meet. The skills would add to their personal values and help them to be positive and responsible business people.
A six-week training was held from Oct 31 to Dec 13 last year at the Bible Translation Association (BTA) in Waigani where 120 vendors participated; there were only two were men and the rest were women.
The training was conducted by ACE Consulting and Training Services, an organisation specialised in conducting workshops on reviews, project management, team building exercises, strategic planning and redefining the workplace, curriculum writing and reviews, accreditations and pathways, and training on a wide range of topics.
ACE partnered with United Nations Women (UN Women), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the National Capital District Commission in facilitating the programme.
The topics covered in the training were:
- Time management and managing your priorities
- Hygiene, grooming and presentation
- Behavioural communication skills
- Adult literacy and numeracy – learning the alphabet and nouns, addition and subtraction
- PNG Social Studies: (1) PNG and its neighbours (2) Apec
- HIV and Aids
- Gender, human rights and family sexual violence
Illiteracy a real challenge
ACE has so far received many positive remarks and compliments for its programmes. However, the recent one with the vendors was a highlight as most of the vendors were illiterate and the adult literacy lessons were fun.
It was a tough job, but with determination to see a positive outcome, it was completed and the mothers all got to spell and write their names and understood the basics of reading and writing.
ACE’s managing director Christine Sumbuk said it was a tough experience but with an experience of over 25 years, she was able to complete the programme with the help of other fellow trainers.
“It took almost two hours for only 30 women to learn how to sign their names,” she laughed.
She said the trainers had patience and commitment as well as hope to see change and they certainly saw it in the participants.
“Around 75 per cent of the population in PNG is illiterate and those are the minds that we need to get into to at least give them a bit of light on the changes that are taking place and how they can fit themselves into the changing society,” she said.
ACE’s marketing and promotions manager Sylvester Banibia said literacy was an important part of today’s lifestyle and their objective was to force light into the minds of the participants so that they at least hook up with the current flow of life.
Banibia is also a police officer with vast background knowledge and experience in human resource management, security, gender and family sexual violence (FSV).
“Most of those women are mothers who work hard and spend hours sitting at the market only to go home to drunk husbands who plunder their daily takings,” he said.
“We did not only teach them how to read and write, but we also showed them that they can create accounts, save their money, plan ahead and advance their business.”
Goal-setting was one of the newest ideas learnt at the training. Most of the vendors did not have any idea about the concept and were brought into a whole new world where they realised how meaningful life could be if they lived for something.
Sumbuk said the concept was brought down to their level with illustrations of relatable scenarios where they completely understood.
“We Papua New Guineans are very good in speaking and telling stories. We’re an oral society and storytelling is part of our lives. You tell a story, then bring in the concept and hook it up, they’ll pick it up.”
In regards to goals, Sumbuk said a very important factor was time.
“You can set goals to achieve but you won’t achieve them if you don’t bring in the time factor. Set your goals and set a time limit as to when you’re going to achieve that goal. We reminded them that they shouldn’t see themselves sitting in the market after five years. You gotta get out and move on. Set goals, set time, achieve those goals and advance higher.”
The vendors were enthralled by the lessons and started setting their own goals to achieve.
“We learnt so many things. Things we used to ignore before but those were factors that added to the quality of life. Life was meant to be purposeful and I realize that now,” said Ronica Peter one of the vendors.
Peter, from Ialibu in Southern Highlands, said the training helped her so much that she was prioritising her time, money and resources wisely and setting goals to achieve.
“Two most important things I learnt were time and money,” said another vendor Betty Ebela, from Tari, Hela.
“We usually wake up at six and go to the market and spend countless hours there just because we want to earn money for our basic needs at home. Although we spend on our needs, we misuse a lot of money and through the training we were taught on how to budget, save money and start something bigger so that we won’t come back and sit in the market.”
Hygiene, grooming, presentation,
Apart from literacy, goals and the other topics covered. Hygiene, grooming, presentation and communication are very vital aspects of the informal business sector that almost all of us are not aware of.
The training reminded the vendors that they are in a business that deals with people every day and their communication skills and outward appearance must be appealing to their customers. Maintaining very good communication with people and showing general courtesy was one of the very important skill in business, as taught to the vendors.
“I now know that I have to be open and friendly to my customers at all times and even if I have some issues of my own I must not show it to my customers. They are my number one priority,” said Ronica Peter.
Life changing opportunity
The training was indeed a life-changing opportunity for both the trainers and the participants. Sumbuk said during the graduation that though they had taught the vendors so many new ideas, they themselves also learnt a lot from the vendors too.
“You did not just sit in class but you participated, you shared in the learning experience and we all have gained.Some of you brought your kids along and this was an added bonus for us as we got to see your realities. We had a glimpse of what you were all going through. We are truly blessed.”
The vendors were thankful that they got an opportunity to see new things in life, things that were once hidden in plain sight. They were able to be more aware of their communities, the natural environment, people and their goals and purposes in life. It was a blessing to them all.
“For us trainers, it was amusing and rewarding to see this new knowledge taken in and marvelled at. It was awesome,” said Sumbuk.
Other trainings in 2018
Apart from the vendors’ training, ACE has coordinated several other programmes since 2016. Last year ACE held a training with executive officers of the three main boards of the NCD in office communication and training.
ACE has also conducted a short course with PNG Institute of Banking and Business Management where customer service training was given to employees of Tisa Savings and Loans Society, Internal Revenue Commission, Bank South Pacific, Westpac, Immigration and PNG Customs.
Within the same course, ACE conducted negotiation and conflict resolution training with the National Coordinating Office of Bougainville Affairs, women in leadership and influence training with SMEs under ExxonMobil, and business writing skills with other SMEs, Bank of PNG, Westpac, Australian High Commission and BSP.
ACE has also partnered with The Voice Inc and Oil Search Foundation to carry out a leadership training with students at Kikori Secondary School in Gulf.
Apart from trainings ACE also specialises in providing individual mentoring and coaching on business, leadership and a variety of other areas.
Its lively sessions bring up new ideas and approaches to life in the professional and formal arena as well as the informal. This made ACE one of the favourites in the business sector today.
Rebecca Kumasi from the Australian High Commission commented: “You know, I have attended many training sessions and in most, I fall asleep. Yours was completely different and the best!
“My experience in the training was different from most of the other soft skills trainings I have attended, it had a tinge of freshness about it and your techniques were not always conventional and I say that as a compliment,” said Raymond Pakure from BSP.