Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem for University Students in PNG

03.23.2020 | Uyanga Tsolmonkhuu, Jane Kim
Members of the University Entrepreneurship Consortium pose with Dr. Kim Bettcher and CIPE staff after a training session on writing business case studies.

In 2015, CIPE launched an initiative in collaboration with the Australian and United States governments to encourage, support, and reward women’s entrepreneurship in Papua New Guinea. Phase I of this project laid the groundwork for the emergence of an “entrepreneurial ecosystem,” including the development of entrepreneurship courses at PNG universities, the opening of a Women’s Business Resource Center in Port Moresby, and providing technical assistance to women’s business organizations on advocacy.  In Phase II, CIPE has continued to work towards solidifying the stability of this entrepreneurial ecosystem, wherein the institutions in Papua New Guinea are developed alongside the creation of a constituency of entrepreneurs and leaders in the country.


One objective has been to promote entrepreneurship through educating and equipping university students with the skills and knowledge to become entrepreneurs.  To achieve this, CIPE has been working with four Papua New Guinean universities from Port Moresby with reach into other regions to assist with the creation of a new curriculum or revision of old curriculum on entrepreneurship.  CIPE has worked with the William Davidson Institute to provide specialized trainings on entrepreneurship pedagogy, as well as tailored coaching and consultations to participating universities to develop curriculum that fits the needs of their particular student demographics. The long-term goal is to have all participating universities offer or expand entrepreneurship as a formal major or minor so that young Papua New Guineans, particularly women, have the option of considering entrepreneurship as a career path.


Divine Word University’s business school faculty engage in CIPE’s entrepreneurship curriculum-building training.

A PNG University Entrepreneurship Consortium was formed in May 2017 to provide a platform for the sharing of ideas and lessons learned. It includes four university partners: The University of Papua New Guinea, Pacific Adventist University (PAU), Divine Word University (DWU), and IBS University.  All partners have made notable progress but are currently in various stages of entrepreneurship education development. CIPE has found the commitment and entrepreneurial appetite at PAU and DWU especially notable.


Since first receiving CIPE support for training, Pacific Adventist University has formally launched an entrepreneurship degree program at its Port Moresby campus. The Accounting and Entrepreneurship major is comprised of two new courses, Principles of Entrepreneurship and Principles of Marketing. A third course on social entrepreneurship is currently being refined for launch in 2020. Furthermore, PAU has taken the initiative to offer entrepreneurship courses at its sister campus in Rabaul for a diploma program in entrepreneurship. The unique curriculum at PAU aims to arm students with both a degree and a registered business upon graduation and entry into society.  As a result, out of the 93 students across its two campuses, 43 have already formally registered their businesses with the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA), the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC), and opened a bank account, making them ready for formal execution.  Since the launch of the program, 25 students have also reported an increase in confidence in pursuing an entrepreneurship path and continue to encourage each other and learn through the Entrepreneurship Club, or E-Club. The first class of PAU entrepreneurship students will graduate in 2021.


Divine Word University has also shown strong commitment and great progress by developing entrepreneurship as a graduate-level academic discipline. Since receiving CIPE’s support, faculty members from both DWU’s main campus in Madang and Port Moresby campus have worked to finalize an entrepreneurship specialization within its MBA program. This entrepreneurship specialization was approved in January 2020 and will make entrepreneurship available to pursue in various levels of advanced education. The faculty from both of its campuses continue to show enthusiastic involvement in entrepreneurial activities, with the Madang faculty providing financial literacy training to communities around the campus.


Excitement about entrepreneurship among university partners has grown in tandem with the PNG Government’s growing emphasis on the SME Policy to reach the prosperity laid out in its Vision 2050. University partners are uniquely positioned to contribute to the Government’s efforts, and some universities have already set in motion ideas to further encourage entrepreneurship and equip business students for success. Young entrepreneurs in Papua New Guinea face challenges similar to those faced by other young entrepreneurs around the world, such as limited access to finance, lack of practical business experience, and little to no business networks. Some universities are beginning to think of innovative solutions to some of those barriers, and CIPE remains committed to exploring ideas alongside its university partners and supporting the buildup of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and vibrant private sector for a prosperous Papua New Guinea.


Jane Kim is a Program Officer for Asia and the Pacific at CIPE, and Uyanga Tsolmonkhuu is a Program Associate for Asia and the Pacific at CIPE.