Empower Your Business

Accounting is Just the Beginning


Business Mentoring in Papua-New-Guinea (part 2)

There was a story on the news the other day about the priciest hotels in the world to buy a club sandwich. Well whoever wrote the story hadn’t been to the Ela Beach Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, where a club sandwich costs 45 Kina, which is about $41 Kiwi! This highlights the huge contrast between the wealthy and poor in Papua New Guinea, and there are plenty of locals in the restaurant in the hotel paying these kinds of prices!

This was our second trip to Port Moresby, and again my colleagues and I were privileged to meet some very switched-on business owner-operators. These are locals, not expats, and I’ve been very impressed with their professionalism and business skills, and what they’ve achieved despite the difficulties they face. In addition, because of the difficultly of obtaining business finance, the businesses are virtually all self-financed from profits – try finding that in NZ or the UK!

The contrast in wealth reflects itself in many ways, with shanty towns and slums alongside luxury hotels and apartments, locals paying 10.5 Kina for a beer when the average wage is 3 Kina an hour, the new cinema which charges 25 Kina entry, thousands of roadside stalls selling limes and betel nuts and not much else, the streets full with expensive looking cars driving by rickety-looking villages built over the sea which is full of rubbish and sewage sludge, stories of Australian pedophiles who buy the local girls and live with them in the villages, the virtual death sentence arising from a serious illness or the huge bride price the men have to pay to find a wife – between 50,000 to 150,000 Kina.

Despite the tales of crime and violence and the Port Moresby police being called out to stop cinema-goers taking in hand-grenades the people are very friendly.

Lloyd and myself hard at workI was lucky enough to be invited to the pub by my client Joe (where I met his client John), and not only did we share a joke over a couple of cold beers (much needed in the hot and sweaty non-air-conditioned local’s pub!) but it was a fantastic opportunity for me to chat informally and find out all about life in PNG. I’ve been sending Joe & John email jokes since my return and I’m sure we will remain firm friends.

I think Kiwi business owners (me included) could learn a lot from my new friends in Port Moresby, so complacency and any sense of superiority are most definitely out of place. We’ve got it very easy in comparison!