When mum-of-six Elisa knew she had struck gold


AFTER getting K2,000 cash from one day’s sales at the POM City Market in October last year, Elisa Simuko told herself she has to continue selling her items there.
Mother-of-six Elisa, from Kain­antu in Eastern Highlands, sells traditional artefacts. Her custom­ers are mostly visitors to the coun­try. She loves to show off to them traditional items unique to Papua New Guinea.
After that experience at the POM City market last year, she realised that the income she received was more than what she had been earning in other markets.
She knew instantly she had struck gold.
“It was my first time selling at the Pom city market and when I walked away with K2,000 cash from my sales, I was proud of myself.”
Elisa sells various items such as Sepik face masks, New Ireland baskets, traditional bilum made from bush material, highlands bilum, sea shells, necklaces, paint­ings, carvings made from metal and bracelets made from seashells.
She has been living in Port Moresby for the past 30 years sell­ing artefacts in hotels, schools and markets.
She also loves to promote arte­facts to those not too familiar with the country’s cultures and tradi­tional skills such as in carving. She believes that it is a good way to educate foreigners about PNG culture.
She believes too that in that way, young people while adapting to technological and develop­ment changes will also realise the importance of their unique culture and traditional skills.
“They should treasure tradi­tional items and culture so that they do not forget their tradition and identity.”
Elisa loves what she is doing be­cause she is supporting her family with what she is earning.
“I can send my children to school and take care of my family needs because both my husband and me are not formally employed. Doing business like this can sup­port our family.”
She appreciates what other women are doing to support their families by starting small busi­nesses such as making blouses, fashion dress, bags and bilum. But for her, she wants to concentrate on traditional artefacts to keep alive the culture and skills unique to PNG, and help young people understand the importance of their culture and traditional skills.
The bilum prices range from K40 to K500 depending on the sizes and patterns. A necklace sells for K10, shells for K20, paint­ings and East New Britain carving made from metal, and Sepik face masks are sold for between K50 to K1,500.
It takes her three to four days to weave a bilum. She buys other items from people and re-sells them.
She also helps her relatives sell the sea shells they make.
At the Pom city market, the biggest income she earned was around K1,500. After paying K300 for the two days at the market, she is happy with her take-home income.
She plans to formalise her busi­ness by registering it.
Elisa knows she is into a good thing and wants to continue her small marketing business as long as possible. There is no stopping Elisa now.
“I was young 20 years ago when I started doing this.”