Trained to think as entrepreneurs


A businessman has one thing in mind to wake up every morning and see his business grow.

There is a PNG underworld saying which goes, “Likik moni, bikpla spak, bikpla bagarap”.
I have not heard of this until most recently when discussing some social issues and found that many men, women and youths are taking home brew, coffee bunch and low-cost alcohol to get drunk, become a nuisance and have long hang-overs. For them it is “liklik moni, bikpla spark, bikpla bagarap”.
Can we change that saying?
In an entrepreneur’s mind, he has nothing, maybe a little cash, and little time and if well used that can change his entire life.
Many people who succeed in life have very few resources. They make personal sacrifices to own and operate large businesses and it is really through personal viability.
Being viable is to say, yes I can do it. Nothing is impossible. One is reminded by Philippians that says I can do all things through Christs that strengthens me. The power within us, is much greater than the power outside. You and I decide on how our lives should be and how to get there all depends on us.
For the Bomana prison’s low security inmates the personal viability course for small business management has brought in a new perspective in life. Many things have been taken for granted and that has been affected by how we have been taught in the formal education system.
We have been trained to work for others and send in CVs and job applications, hence ended up with anti-social behaviour, because we depended on others for our livelihood. It has been decided that we all say “yes I can do it”.

New vision for Bomana in collaboration with Human Development Institute (HDI) and Papa Sam Foundation
Two people that have come together to help change the way prisoners and officers behave and think are Haraha Kiddy Keko, the commanding officer of the Bomana prison and Papa Sam Tam.
The collaboration has change the way of thinking and behaviour at the prison to instil discipline and change. Whilst it may raise some eye brows, it has impacted the prison system at Bomana.
Bomana is continually faced with continuous budgetary constraints, lack of institutional capacity and run-down facilities to rehabilitate the prisoners. This programme is unleashing new life into the prison system.
Correctional officers are by definition officers assigned to correct the behaviour and conduct of others who are brought under their care. They cannot do that if their own personal life and conduct are not according to the level desired of them and unacceptable to the outside.
For this reason, this collaborative work brings CS Officers, their dependents and inmates to look at personal viability tools, value systems, attitudes that can set a new direction for training and rehabilitation in the prison system.
Rehabilitation is now a reality. Changing mindsets, behaviour to becoming productive is the game for the future.

Personal viability and entrepreneurial training
At the prison, we have been studying personal viability (PV) which is the study of personal power (spiritual, mental and physical). We have come to recognise that we all have some gifts, character, skills and competencies.
To succeed in life we all need to look within ourselves in order to harness that and prepare to succeed in life. If we don’t prepare by default we are preparing to fail.
Personal viability is all about having a positive mindset and looking within us to bring out the character and qualities we have. Someone who is positive has a rich mindset. With that mindset that person has personal power and skills to satisfy their own needs and for those around them.
With this in mind, a viable entrepreneur is a person that has developed a rich mindset to organise and use resources for profit and for helping their communities. The use of limited resources such as time, human capital and money is critical for success.
At Bomana, the take-home for everyone is that “a viable person has a rich mindset who knows how to sets goals and work towards achieving those goals. This is the change for us and our families.
Yes we can change and change for the better. Our testimony is that when you come into contact with an ex-low risks prisoner – you will find his or her attitude and behaviour very different to those who have not been an inmate.
These are some of the most and well-disciplined well-behaved people you can find around. This programme is adding value to society at large.

Rehabilitation, the balance sheet of life and the PV value system
Many think that rehabilitation work is only for prisoners and for those who go into prisons. That thinking is a fallacy, in fact everyone needs rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation is about change of mindsets as many live in prisons of their homes and self. Look at the person who loiters at the bus stop or spits buai and paints graffiti on walls.
Husband and wife bash each other and children are left neglected by their parents. Something is wrong somewhere!
We all need to change. And that change starts with you and it starts with me. Whether in prison or outside the prison we all need rehabilitation and we need the balance sheet of life to be viable to ourselves and for those around us.
Many of us have talents, skills, values, and virtues both positive and negative.
The positive ones give us positive mindsets and the negative ones becomes a burden to us.
We have learnt to identify those to help us project ourselves into the future. The positive values and beliefs are forgiveness, tolerance, honesty, faith, commitment, common sense, being punctual, polite, open-minded, cooperative, dependable, considerate, consistent, generous and neat.
And positive attitudes are doer, loyal, sincere, courageous, kind, modest, friendly, consistent, trustworthy, affectionate, risk-taker, integrity, credibility, responsible and pleasant. These define a mi inap or I can personal alignment.
Negative values are lack of money, skills and the absence of positive traits (the opposite) such as fear, pain, discomfort, confrontational, unpleasantness, evil, unforgiveness, arrogance, wastage, pride, greed, disobedience, blame, jealousy and being quarrelsome, etc. The lack of positive traits will become a burden and pull down a person and create the mi no inap mentality.

Things have changed at Bomana in the last several years and the PV training has reinforced the way people think and behave.
It is change in literacy levels – the inmates are coached to think laterally and outside the box. Personal power is true wealth. That power is within our hands, we can use it to help us or destroy us. We are all accountable for our own actions.
It is said that “schools have taught children to be employees and customers and not to become employers and business owners.
We needed personal alignment having faith in ourselves, in the way we act, think and act. The values we project must reflect our true identity and worth.
You, can, I can and everyone can help change for the better. We can change individually to change our families, our communities and our country. It can be done and yes we can. It starts with you and it starts with me.
And finally, Are you viable? Your answer should be “Yes I am. I can do all things. I am viable.
Can you start a small business venture? Yes I can. I can do it. We all can help change Papua New Guinea.

  • The author is an inmate at the Bomana Prison providing coaching to a number of individuals in his team that includes staff, their dependants, youths and inmates.

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