By Sharlyne Eri – EMTV News, Lae
A retired teacher has partnered with her son to start a business in Lae. 58-year-old Mary Menggenang and son, Samson Menggenang, are owners of two separate businesses that operate under the same roof. Mary runs a tailoring business and Samson who is a computer scientist by profession, runs an internet café. Samson runs the Menggetrons Cyber Café in the front while his mother runs her tailoring shop at the back. Both were opened for business last year.
Mary retired as a teacher in 2014 after teaching for 34 years. She now runs a tailoring business under the name, Bagele Trading. The idea of starting a tailoring business was a childhood dream of hers, and after retiring she started sewing and selling meri-blouses from her home.
“While growing up, I realised that women in my village wore meri-blouses all the time. I recall thinking that I would sew and sell meri-blouses when I got older,” Mary said.
While selling her meri-blouses from home, Mary wanted to venture into something bigger. Her son then proposed the idea of partnering in a joint business. He advised her to sell the vehicle that she had bought after retiring and venture into a business with him.
“We initially wanted to buy a bus but we could not afford it, so we opened a shop and bought computers and started an internet café. While my son was doing that I bought my machines and started sewing while he ran the internet café,” Mary said.
Originally from East New Britain Province, Mary specifically sews and sells Tolai-styled meri-blouses. In a week she gets requests from 3 to 5 customers. Her prices range from K30 to K70 depending on the material type and the size of the meri-blouses. She has established regular customers with employees of companies such as BSP, Lihir Gold Mine and Swire Shipping. Her customers are both males and females.
Mary learnt how to sew in high school and it has become a hobby overtime. Her hobby is now putting money into her pocket.
“When sewing I see that I am earning good money since retiring as a teacher.”
Owning and running a business has its hurdles, but working with her son, has helped Mary a lot. She says he has been her greatest support.
“My son is very helpful. He advertises my meri-blouses on Facebook. I am not familiar with Facebook, but after seeing the reactions when my son posted my meri-blouses, I opened my own Facebook account,” Mary stated.
Mary is slowly engaging other women into her business. She has recently engaged a friend who sews men’s shirts and matching outfits for women. This is part of a bigger plan to grow her business.
Mary says these days, a fortnightly wage is not sufficient, she is encouraging people, particularly the working class, to venture in SMEs.
“Earning money fortnightly is not enough. We have to have small businesses like this instead of waiting for fortnightly payment,” she said.