By TREVOR WAHUNE
LEAVING his home in Sinasina-Yongomugl in Chimbu, for Port Moresby with only a Grade 12 certificate to find a job was his biggest challenge, says Raymond Kambu.
After a decade, a happily married Kambu today manages a Digicel phone house outlet and stall at Boroko in Port Moresby.
I sometimes stop by to buy Flex cards from his outlet.
Last Wednesday I decided to ask Kambu to share with me how he got himself established where he is now. This is a short account of his small phone business.
“It was in 2007 when I left my village called Mogle Kakai that is situated along the Simbu River in the Sinasina-Yangomugl district in Chimbu,” Kambu said.
“When I arrived in Port Moresby, with a Grade 12 certificate as my only hope to find a job, I started knocking on doors.
“I visited a lot of Asian shops, dropped interest letters at their officers for job offers but there were hardly any feedbacks.
“This went on for some time.
“My world had turned upside down.
“However, just when all hope was lost, Digicel PNG Limited came in to Papua New Guinea.
“I got word that Digicel was offering casual work to people on the streets,” Kambu said.
Kambu said the casual work Digicel offered was for people in the informal sector to assist the company by selling phones that used the Digicel network.
“At the time the Nokia 1200 series phone cost K12.80 and with a Sim card that time costing K6, one would pay a total of K18 for the phone and Sim card.
“For Coral phones, people would pay K20 for two phones, be it the Coral 100, or the Coral 200 series,” Kambu said.
“I found the casual work as a chance to do something myself, and so I started off.
“When we sold 20 phone cartons Digicel paid us K20, it was hard work, but what could I have done to earn a living?
“However as time went by, I was becoming more experienced with the sales I was doing on the streets, so I used to sell up to 100 boxes per day.
“That made me earn over K2000 per day.
“At that time, I was very young and most of that money was misused on drinking unnecessarily.
“After some years, I got in touch with a phone friend from Bougainville. I was dialing a relative’s number when I just missed one digit and that made me get in touch with her.
“Her name is Yolina Va-Nau, who is now my wife.
“We contacted for some time, then I flew to Bougainville to meet her.
“I lived with her and her family at their place in Gane, Tinputs district for a year and then decided to return to Port Moresby in 2013 with her.”
Kambu said when he came back, the casual phone sales for Digicel were still around, but not as effective as in 2007-2012.
“This was because of certain laws passed to restrict street vending,” he said.
Kambu, when returning from Bougainville with his wife, started once casual sales for Digicel, but this time around, more determined and eager to get a small business established to avoid continuous raids by police.
“From 2013, both of us strived with casual phone sales, and also struggled to have our business registered.
“It was until 2015 when my wife and I registered our small business (Blue Phone House) with IPA and started working swiftly with what we do today to earn ourselves a living.
“The name Blue Phone House is derived from Bougainville’s blue flag, because that’s where my wife comes from, ‘phone’ comes in from the phone selling business that we do, and ‘house’ represents the highlands roundhouses, because that is where I come from.
“Having only a Grade 12 qualification and now running my own small recognised business in partnership with Digicel, I must say I am just one of the many individuals with commitment to the casual sales we’ve done with Digicel and have established ourselves formally.
“It was a challenging start, but somehow things have come out the way my wife and I had dreamed of and of course we look forward to expand our little business.
“Thanks to the casual phone sales for Digicel which I started off with, I am now my own boss.
“My advice to those who are struggling with their small business is that nothing in this world is too hard.
“Everything starts out hard, but every little effort put into making something to make it a reality counts.
“One thing that really triggered me to start off my small business was that when I was on the streets doing nothing, no one showed up and offered me money.
“Everyone these days have their own problems to deal with and considering why and how you arrived in Port Moresby is not their business but of course your own.
“Also, after having children, I thought to myself that I needed to make a difference for myself, and as such, the small business that I am engaged in is an outcome of it, its earnings, and an honest way of making money and is the main source of my income that I use to assist my family and friends as well.”
The Kambus today run three Digicel phone houses in Port Moresby – at Boroko, 3-Mile, and Koki.
By TREVOR WAHUNE