Melbourne shop to help bilum makers

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday October 10th, 2013


MELBOURNE-based Bilum Republic seeks to sell PNG bilum for the benefit of the disadvantaged women who make them, venturer Michelle Lausen says.

Bilum republic is a not-for-profit venture that while commercial in nature is philanthropic. 

Lausen said the organisation aimed to fulfil the potential of the PNG bilum product and further industry that would provide economic freedom from violence and poor health outcomes among others.

She said: “We (Bilum Republic) will offer both synthetic fiber (100% acrylic) and natural bush fibers (tulip tree). 

“There will be some product refinement required for export quality. Potentially all purse bilums will need to be made from same synthetic fibre specs (Yarn brand, four-ply and weight).

“We expect the pricing for the natural fiber bilums to be higher – given labour input and a limited natural resource”.

She explained that the organisation was not yet formally working alongside the International Trade Centre (ITC).

However, ITC acknowledged the BilumRepublic and that there may be synergies in their projects and was open to exploring opportunities in the next couple of weeks. 

 “Ideally, the ITC would fund a pilot to be delivered by the Bilum Republic”, she said.  

“Regardless of the funding outcome we will progress with our venture and sell PNG bilums to the international market next year. 

“My concern here is that we may end up competing with the PNG industry should the commercialisation be realised (in two years).

She said the Bilum Republic is currently connected to various PNG bilum producers by having extensively researched the informal bilum industry in various regions.