The Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation aims to train about 6,111,800 MSMEs by 2026, managing director PETRUS RALDA spoke to Business reporter PETER ESILA
What is the capacity of the SME Corporation currently and its training programmes?
PETRUS RALDA: Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) training and capacity building is a major issue held on par with MSME access to finance, as it is critical to building an entrepreneurial culture in Papua New Guinea.
Small and Medium Enterprises Corporation (Smec) currently houses and delivers internationally-accredited ILO MSME training programme known as “Start
and improve your business” (SIYB).
It is Smec’s flagship entrepreneurship training programme for out of school participants, aspiring and existing startup MSMEs in the last 24 years since the training programme was introduced in PNG in 1996.
Smec has since built its
institutional capacity over these years and currently has 108 network training partners, 154 certified trainers and 23 master
trainers and, trained more than 100,000 MSMEs throughout the country’s 22 provinces and 89 districts.
The SIYB is a business start-up training programme which enables entrepreneurs to evaluate the viability of their business ideas.
It also provides the entrepreneur skills needed to start their own business.
The training of trainers (TOT) programme aims at empowering rural entrepreneurship development through capacity building and business development at the provincial, district and local level government (LLG) levels.
The SME Corporation has identified that it is important to build capacity and business development competencies of provincial business development officers (BDOs), district business development officers (DBDOs), LLG business development officers and officers in the economic sections in the provincial administrations, district development authorities (DDAs) and LLGs.
By empowering and up-skilling these officers they will be able to also train the local MSMEs in their respective provinces.
The Government’s vision and priority on growing and developing the MSME and agriculture sectors has now challenged the Smec management and board to re-evaluate its existing capacities and MSME development programmes and projects to reposition itself as the lead MSME development agency to fully support the Government.
Amongst other key policy and legislative reforms, the TOT roll-out is one of the results of this re-evaluation process to further build Smec’s capacity so that it can develop the necessary partnerships to promote the development of MSMEs starting from the ward level up to the provincial and national levels.
Further, the Government through the National Executive Council (NEC) approved the establishment of the financing
partnership agreement (FPA) facility with Bank South Pacific (BSP) and the National Development Bank (NDB) to rollout the K200 million MSME concessional loans.
However, 85 per cent of the country’s population are illiterate and engaged in the informal economy and are not able to access loans under the Government’s financing partnership agreement.
It is, therefore, necessary now for Smec to build and further expand its capacity through the SIYB TOT roll-out and conduct financial literacy trainings with its partners to build the capacities and qualify this 85 per cent
to access the loans from NDB (K80 million) and BSP (K100 million).
It is becoming more imperative now for the MSME development agenda to be aligned and integrated into all social and economic development plans at
the national, provincial, district, local level government and ward levels.
Therefore, the training of trainers programme roll-out is an important impact project for the Government and its commitment to MSME development at the provinces, districts and LLG levels.
The SME Corporation launched the nationwide Start and Improve your business training of trainers programme on June 29.
What is MSMEs plans on increasing the SME/MSME sector in Papua New Guinea?
The SME Corporation will soon complete its nationwide SIYB TOT programme after the Southern leg which started in Oct 4 and currently being held at Sogeri in Central.
Consistent with the TOT roll-out schedule, Smec has already completed TOT programmes for the New Guinea Islands, Highlands and Mamose.
At the conclusion of the
nationwide TOT rollout, SME Corporation will have trained a total of 230 provincial, district and local level government officers.
In 2022, Smec will start rolling out the MSME entrepreneurship training per its five-year plan (2022-2026).
The training will start from the 6,112 wards in PNG.
According to Smec’s five-year plan, a total of 200 MSMEs will be trained at every ward each year starting in 2022 and progressively train 200 MSMEs each at every ward until 2026.
Through this five-year MSME training and capacity building plan, Smec will have trained a total of 1,222,400 MSMEs at ward level every year.
At the end of 2026, Smec will have trained 6,112,000 MSMEs nationwide.
The summary of the impact of the five-year MSME capacity building training is highlighted below for your understanding and appreciation.
Smec board and management has planned and adopted a bottom-up strategy to start micro small and medium enterprises development projects and programs from the 6,112 wards, involving 85 per cent of the population.
This plan will commence with implementation of the MSME training and capacity building training programme.
There are many training conducted by consultants and institutions out there, what is the guarantee there, how should a training last?
At Smec, entrepreneurship training programme should not take less than 10 days, 10 days and maximum, there are many three-day, four-day, five-day programmes.
These short day programmes are conducive in economies like Australia or New Zealand, because everybody knows, in the business culture, they grow with them and run specific programmes.
They have an educated business literate population.
But in PNG we cannot do that, almost 85 per cent of our population are illiterate.
A three-day programme does not do any good.
It is going to be a waste because nobody is going to grasp anything within three days, and we do not know the standards of those trainings as well. A three or
four day programme should
be a seminar, workshop or something like that, investment seminars.
At the SME Corporation, our programme is internationally recognised.
We tailor the programme, we
go when the training requests comes in and conduct a training needs analysis and we give them necessary forms to fill, so we identify the capacity or the education level of the people, our participants.
Once we identify the level of education then we come back and design the programme, we have the start your business, improve your business, micro enterprise, under the start and improve programme we have different training modules like micro enterprise, entrepreneurship training, all different so we decide the programme and delivery, whether it is going to be in Tok Pisin, English or combination of both and deliver the programme to the needs and capacity of the participants.
We do it more carefully to deliver quality training to the participants.