Women who mean business

Normal, Weekender

The upcoming PNG Women in Business expo in Lae will give them the opportunity to showcase their talents and skills writes DOREEN POLOH WAIM

FOR the first time women around the country will be given the chance to be recognized as equal partners who can contribute to the development of PNG.
This will happen at the the upcomng PNG Women in Business expo to be staged at the Sir Ignatius Kilage Stadium in Lae on Feb 26-28.
The event is being organized by the PNGWiB, the City Mothers Business Foundation and the Department of Trade and Industry.
The event, the first of its kind in the country will draw women from all walks of life who are engaged in various forms of business to share their knowledge, skills and to inspire more women to become entrepreneurs. 
The event is also set to reflect one of the aims under the country’s economic strategy that calls for a rapid increase in the equal and active participation of women in the economy.
Some of the expected major highlights of the expo will include the official opening of the event by Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and prominent dignitaries in the government and business sector.
The event’s organizing committee is expecting more than 100 business women to participate in the event.
The whole idea of the expo is to empower women into business. It is also an opportunity for women to raise their concerns regarding business.
The expo will also serve as an avenue to assist women who need guidance in marketing, networking or expanding their businesses.
The PNGWiB expo was officially launched last October by the  Trade and Industry minister Gabriel Kapris.
Mr Kapris had said during the launching that in our culture, men always deemed women as insignificant and take them for granted.
However he stressed that it was important today that men change this mentality because for the country to realize its full developmental potential, women must be recognized as equal partners.
Business woman and PNGWiB president Janet Sape said the project was initiated last year purposely to market, promote and support women to do business.
She said the foremost aim of the expo was for women to showcase and exhibit their products and services to the public.
Mrs Sape said the expo would also serve as an approach for them to assess the need and interest of women and issues that they face in business.
She said there is no organization representing women or talking on their behalf to address setbacks they face in doing business in the country.
She said, equal economic participation of women is very vital to the development of a country.
In the homes and traditionally, Mrs Sape said women are known to be responsible managers.
“If taken to the business arena, the same applies,” she said.
Mrs Sape said there is now a growing atmosphere of change and women are gradually transforming their roles in their homes and becoming entrepreneurs.
She hopes that the expo will give women the exposure to show what they have achieved and can achieve if given the opportunity.
It can also be seen as one of the positive steps for women in progressing towards meeting the Medium Development Goals, she said.
During the event, five women would be selected to attend the China expo in October.
Mrs Sape said the trade and industry department has provided an incentive of K8 million for a delegation to attend the event and the winners will be among them.
“The expo is all about supporting and seeking assistance to develop women in business”, she said.
Mrs Sape said with the expo she hopes to bring across to more women one of her focal aspirations of setting up a microfinance institution for women.
She said she had already begun with the association of 8000 women members nationwide who are part of the City Mothers Business Foundation.
With an established microfinance institution for women, Mrs Sape believes that women will be able to operate their own accounts and be considered with relaxed policies.
She said most women especially in the rural areas are unable to have access to the services provided by financial institutions because of strict policies.
Mrs Sape also believes that one of the key means of alleviating poverty was being self sufficient and financially independent and this can be achieved through empowering women into business.
She hopes that the expo would provide an insight for women to realise their full potential in managing their own business.
Mrs Sape has commended a number of business houses who have come forward to demonstrate their support towards the expo.
They include Mainland Holdings, ANZ Bank, Cheris Hire Car Service and PNG Sustainable Resources; Avis rent a car, Origin Energy, Coca Cola and FM Morobe.
She has also urged business houses to support women during the event by providing encouragement and advice on doing business.
Mrs Sape said City Pharmacy Ltd have also supported and will be providing free mammogram service for women and vaccination for children.
The events coordinator Lellas Terra said, preparations for the event were underway with 30 booths being set up at the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium and more are expected during the weekend.
She said the indoor stadium would also be used as a huge number of women from other provinces were showing their interest.