More than 100 women are taking part in the ‘WECREATE’ Challenge Extreme-Build-a-Business workshop in Port Moresby this weekend.
The WECREATE Challenge is a national entrepreneurship training, and accelerator program that provides emerging female entrepreneurs with resources, connection and skills they need to establish successful companies in their local communities.
The women are receiving coaching, and mentoring from WECREATE founder, Sean Griffin, and a host of successful PNG business people.
The challenge attracted 111 applicants from the National Capital District, and Central Province.
Twenty-five of the most promising entrepreneurs will move onto the next stage, receiving six months of support to help get their business idea off the ground, or grow their existing business.
The WECREATE Challenge is supported in PNG by the Australian and United States’ Governments, and is aligned to the Government of PNG’s policy priority to establish 250,000 new small and medium enterprises.
It is based on a proven international model that has been delivered in 60 countries, helping to create more than 4,000 businesses, and create 40,000 jobs.
Deputy Australian High Commissioner, Bronte Moules said her government was committed to working in partnership with the PNG Government; to help it grow its economy, and create opportunities for women.
“We know through practical experience, but also through the research, that there is no doubt that any community is richer where women have the same opportunities as men to find jobs, to earn an income and to participate in the community, freely,” she said.
“Women’s empowerment is, quite simply, a key driver of sustainable economic growth and development and stability. Countries that have more equality have greater economic growth.”
The WECREATE Challenge helps women gain the skills they need to bring their business ideas to fulfillment by helping them to; test their business assumptions; refine their ideas; and plan for business growth.
It aims to help women to become more economically empowered, and to support the development of a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem in which women’s business ideas can thrive.
One of the WECREATE Challenge mentors, Rita Kare, started her business – the Goroka Steakhaus – by selling scones on the street. She now has a 200 seat restaurant, conference centre, and has recently built a hotel.
She urged the women to have self-confidence, motivation and the willingness to embrace challenges that would arise along the way.
“My simple message to my local female business aspirant is this: ‘You can get it if you really want it. But you must try. And if I can do it, you can do it’.”
It’s expected that future rounds of the WECREATE Challenge will be held elsewhere in PNG.
The Challenge generated significant interest in its first round due to a successful Facebook campaign, and the support of the Women’s Business Resource Centre, in Hohola.
Sean Griffin, said the PNG participants shared the same hopes and dreams as participants from across the world.
“We are all similar in life. We all want to have our own independence, our own freedom, our own ability to take care of our families,” he said.
“Running your own business is one of the most profound and rewarding ways to make that happen.”
He warned the participants their entrepreneurial journey would not be easy.
“Starting a business and building a business is a lot like a video game. You just get to a new level and it gets harder.
“It doesn’t get easier. And that’s good. Because it stretches and helps you grow.”