Q&A: An Interview with the Investment Promotion Authority of Papua New Guinea

Write your idea down and take action now. Photo: Elijah O’Donnell

In the very early stages of start ups, we are all told to write a business plan. Most of us do not. Let’s not pretend.

How do you distinguish between someone with just an idea and an entrepreneur? A person with an idea may have acted on that idea and met a prospect, converted that into a lead and opportunity and closed a sale. Got paid. In cash.

Now, how do we distinguish between a person who through sheer hussle and ingenuity or through the support of a friend or family member wanting to help out, made a sale – to someone who wants to scale, or open a bank account, or get funding legitimately.

Photo: Garrhet Sampson

The journey to legitimacy will begin with your own research – asking a family member or a quick, convenient Google Search where checklists for how to start a business will appear.

A question you will get initially is, “Do you have an IPA certificate?”

An IPA certificate or business name registration is a standard requirement to open a bank account.

The IPA or Investment Promotion Authority as it is formally known stands out for its key role of managing the Companies Office, Securities Commission, and the Intellectual Property Office.

The IPA also identifies international markets for Papua New Guinean exporters.

“It was with IPA’s vision on trade investments that Oshin Organics Limited grew. In Max-
toneHaus’s first year of operation, IPA invited me to take our products to New Zealand. This was invaluable to our export growth. This also helped shape Oshin Organics Limited in
terms of packaging and labeling and finding channels of distribution.With IPA, I went to New Zealand twice as MaxtoneHaus and then Oshin Organics. The difference is phenomenal. Attending these trade shows led to the initiation of Oshin Organics Limited’s website. Thank you IPA for your support of SMEs like Oshin Organics Limited,” said owner, Ernestine Kong.

Oshin Organics product line of coconut oil products. Photo: Kokonas Industri Corporation (Coconut Industry Corporation of Papua New Guinea)

As a powerful government authority, IPA stands out for its seriousness of intent.

IPA, which is in progress to present amendments to key legislation during the upcoming November PNG parliament session which includes the much-buzzed-about reserved business activity list, has as of late been promoting women-led businesses such as Oshin Organics and Yanua Kitchen.

Handmade jams by Yanua Kitchen, operated in Milne Bay by Nemika Brunton, created after the COVID-19 lockdown affected their cruise ship tourism driven family business. Photo: Yanua Kitchen

IPA also has a robust and well managed “Do It Online” system which allows entrepreneurs to register businesses or companies, file annual returns and perform company searches.

But IPA does not breathe and live independent from the creative and smart team serving its walk in and online clients, who are just as committed to helping you promote your idea as they are with reminding you to file annual returns – but whose grind flirts and complements the hussle of their clients as they push towards creating 500,000 SMEs by 2030.

IPA’s dialogue hones in on subjects such as development and local SME empowerment.

While some of our answers were not yet fully formed in the initial idea testing of the minimum viable product and launch test of our marketing campaign for our Business Plan Bonanza, the interviewer’s questions, provoked us and added up to something compelling and gutsy.

We chatted with IPA.

What is unique about your business?

SR Curio is a purpose and socially driven business for profit that specializes in integrated marketing communications and business design.

The business is in the final stages of being an approved Business Advisor with the New Zealand government funded Business Link Pacific suite of business advisors.

We offer the Business Plan Bonanza as an introductory solution targeting entrepreneurs and businesses who are presently in their growth cycle. It provides an opportunity to review, analyzing and update business models, drivers and profitability as a means to develop growth strategies and source financing through partners or commercial financing.

Do you have targeted businesses in specific industries that you’d like to work with?

Market research has demonstrated the lack of affordable business advisory services and we are currently targeting entrepreneurs with 3 to 5 years of operational experience in the agriculture, retail and tourism industries.

How do you see your business assisting and improving the underdeveloped industries and the local SMEs?

Consumer insights in the agriculture space such as the case study from Illimo Dairy Farm – the increased demand for Illimo Milk’s product line from the domestic market during the COVID-19 lockdown – highlights the demand for nationally sourced products and services from local suppliers.

The leadership and strategy by large retail groups with national reach such as the CPL Group of Companies, connect and source local ingredients from rural areas including often hard to reach growers. In addition, Paradise Foods is now helping Cacao growers and farmers plant seeds in the Central Province, identifing there is a movement towards an inclusive economy that is also commercially sustainable in the longer-term.

The goal to incorporate rural based SMEs into a national value supply chain will also drive the demand to incorporate our farmers and growers into the formal economy with an affordable business design and support services for their businesses to incorporate, brand and seek sound financial planning advice.

Tell us about your business plan bonanza and what you intend to achieve out of this?

The Business Plan Bonanza is the introductory solution, a component of our wider product suite that channels our business design and  integrated marketing communications structure together.

For our September test launch, we provided an introductory offer for the first 20 registrations to receive a discounted fee of K1,000 from the normal K2,500. So far we have 7 confirmed registrations.

Interesting to note is the varying industries from the initial subscribers which include a seamstress from New Ireland as well as a landlord in Port Moresby seeking a property development plan to refinance.

Our mission is to become a strategic partner of our clients and the Business Plan Bonanza, initially a hypothesis that we are testing, has shown there is a demand for this type  of service.

Additionally, developing long-term trust and relationships with the first twenty subscribers and those there after, will allow us to develop long-term relationships with their brands.

The Business Plan Bonanza is not purely about writing a business plan and ticking it off the list of things to do, but is essentially a “Growth Plan” to allow subscribers achieve their personal and business goals.

This unique solution at its most basic level can be used with our branding package. If the client requires a solution that we do not specialise in, we simply refer them to another Business Link Pacific certified and approved advisor.

The Business Plan Bonanza is modelled off the trend within the “Big 4” professional service firms such as PwC, complementing their core business with the extended offering, cross marketing other services within the PwC network such as the Experience Centre, PwC Digital and Strategy& which demonstrates what we can offer to SME’s a similar capability but at a subsidised scale and price point.

Register for the Business Plan Bonanza here.

This is an excerpt from an interview and will be published in the IPA, November 2020, Opportunity newsletter.

Published by SR_Curio

Inspire. Motivate. Act.

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