In a partnership with the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby, CIPE is supporting the development of the recently-established Papua New Guinea Women’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PNGWCCI), the first and only women’s chamber in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
CIPE arranged for the senior leadership of PNGWCCI to attend a CIPE conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka that convened a network of women’s business groups from across the region. At this conference, which the Papua New Guinean participants described as “inspiring” and “eye-opening,” PNGWCCI saw first-hand that women’s chambers can be hugely successful even in difficult national environments for women, and relationships were established with other Asian chambers that could be invaluable mentors for PNGWCCI.
The women from PNG told CIPE that “we came home more enthusiastic than ever!”
More recently, at a training program in Port Moresby, a CIPE delegation worked with the leaders and members of PNGWCCI to develop an organizational vision, strategic objectives, along with tangible short and medium-term action plans to accomplish them.
New ideas for member services were developed that will help businesswomen in PNG, in businesses both large and small, formal and informal. CIPE also helped revise the PNGWCCI draft constitution to incorporate these policies, which were formally endorsed and adopted by the PNGWCCI board of directors.
The first of several planned training programs in Papua New Guinea, this week-long capacity building workshop earned rave reviews from all in attendance.
One participant, a member of the PNGWCCI Executive Committee, said “businesswomen and women entrepreneurs desperately need the services and policy advocacy that PNGWCCI can provide, because there is no one providing that right now. CIPE’s training on membership service development and general association governance is key for us!”
Another woman in attendance who owns a company that is among PNGWCCI’s first official members went further by saying “Papua New Guinea will never become what it is capable of [becoming] if women cannot fully participate in the economy. PNGWCCI will help them do that. CIPE support will help us accomplish our goals.”
Avia Koisen, Esq., President of PNGWCCI explained that “PNGWCCI seeks to empower and strengthen women entrepreneurs and leaders by building capacity, creating business networking, advocating innovatively, and creating wealth and prosperity in an enabling environment. Our partnership with CIPE will help us realize this vision.”
A strong, independent and self-sustaining women’s chamber of commerce will be a voice in public policy that policymakers can neither eliminate nor ignore. And as an inclusive chamber with broad-based and representative membership from throughout the country, PNGWCCI will make unique contributions to women’s economic empowerment and overall economic development in PNG.
John Morrell is Program Officer for Asia at CIPE.