Business Women Connect Across Borders
Last week, 8 Australian (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) indigenous women entrepreneurs arrived in Port Moresby to join their 10 Papua New Guinean sisters for the Laikim Sister Pilot program which ran from the 6th to the 11th of October. Laikim Sister – meaning to love your sister – is an Australian initiative supported through the PNGAus Partnership.
Delivered by implementation partners The Difference Incubator, the program is a business exchange initiative which aims to create stronger connections between Indigenous business in Australia and PNG by connecting female entrepreneurs across the traditional foods and medicine, cultural tourism and creative industries.
“We were looking for women who ran well-established businesses that leveraged their culture and traditional knowledge.
We also wanted to find alignment in the industries and the types of businesses so the women could learn from each other,” said CEO of The Difference Incubator and Lead Facilitator of the program, Anthea Smits.
Ms Smits stated that the partners of this program hope that participants gain a sense of connection between nations through culture and identity, that they feel a sense of shared understanding and story in meeting other women like them (as women entrepreneurs) and to also build a network, and are inspired by new business ideas and partnership opportunities. “It is a unique program, the first of its kind anywhere.
We hope that it is a success and we can do more like it,” she said. The program had three key design elements which were storytelling where each participant shared stories of culture, gender and business and providing an opportunity for the participants to reframe their experiences into a woven story of resilience and success.
Part two of the program enabled the participants to see first-hand how other business have realised the value of their traditional knowledge to strengthen culture, gender identities and income avenues.
Participants also learnt about and shared their own traditional and contemporary cultural practices. Participants had a guided tour of National Museum & Art Gallery, a visit and Question and Answer session at Glow Boutique and a mini showcase on the last day where the participants witnessed traditional PNG dishes by The Healthy Food Co chef, Jules Henao, Nangu Chef and Kumul Garden.
Apart from the visits, the cohort was involved in panel discussions and sharing sessions on how to better improve their businesses and identifying strategies to upscale and modernise their businesses while staying authentic to their traditional practices.
The program in other words, deepen participants’ connections, enable personal growth, strengthen leadership and collaboration between women of both sides of the border. Strong peopleto-people links are vital in maintaining a resilient and mutually beneficial relationship between Australia and PNG.
One of the participants from PNG, Lina Singut, owner of Tamba Wut said her motivation for being in the program was to grow the visibility of, as well as, promote the value of women of the Middle Sepik as cultural makers and keepers.
Kylie-Lee Bradford of Kakadu Tiny Tots, a 100 per cent Indigenous owned organic children’s clothing store, stated that the program has been one of the best experiences and she loved exchanging culture, food, stories and business with the incredible PNG business women.
Part two of the program will see the 10 PNG participants travel down to Cairns to witness the cultures of the Torres Strait Islanders and Aborigines.
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