Getting on with Better Business In Lihir, Papua New Guinea

Since 2019, Australian Business Volunteers (ABV), in partnership with Newcrest Mining, has worked and walked alongside the people of Lihir as a supportive mentor, teacher, and confidante for many aspiring small business owners and communities.

The centre of the development activity is the Apeketon Business Hub, now in its third year of working with local Lihirians and ABV’s volunteer skilled business professionals to build the skills and knowledge necessary to run successful businesses. It also provides clients with mentoring and consulting services available at the drop-in resource centre.

The Hub, sponsored by Newcrest and delivered in partnership with ABV, currently services 70 registered businesses in the local Lihir community and has delivered 19 custom-designed training programs to more than 300 participants. The course delivery has also been modified to a flexible hybrid via remote video link and in-person training.

Most recently, Newcrest engaged ABV to deliver three group training programs of the Better Business Governance course. The course is delivered by Henry Ume-Taule in Lihir, with ABV’s skilled business professionals in Victoria, New South Wales and Bali joined remotely via video link.

Better Business Governance covers the principles of good corporate governance, the structure of organisations, the duties of directors and managers, and the collective duties of a board and is designed to help participants to be responsible and competent leaders, directors, or a senior manager. Over three months, the three-day, hands-on training is being delivered to three groups comprised of Chairs, Deputy Chairs, and Secretariat. The final numbers are expected to surpass 40 participants.

ABV skilled business professional Liane Arno explained the genuine need for the course in the PNG legal and social environment.

“PNG legislation does not require any of the incorporated bodies to have a constitution. It is very tempting for an organisation to not bother creating one, thinking that they are saving themselves some work,” said Liane.

“However, if there are no guidelines on how often to meet, how to meet, the responsibilities of Directors and the tenure, it can lead to situations where a Board is not run effectively and is unlikely to change its members or its direction, given there is potentially unlimited tenure for Board members.”

Better Business Governance is a proven training and mentoring program for board directors, company secretaries and CEOs in Papua New Guinea to gain an understanding of the legal, accounting, and regulatory principles of being a director.

Newcrest initiated this course to build the capacity of the tenement landholders and relocation group leaders starting with the partnership committees. The course is crucial for better understanding and alignment to the governance processes and providing effective and transparent leadership.

Gabriel Matz, Chairman Putput Village Relocation and Mine Plant Site was one of the participants in the recent course. For Gabriel and many others, it was a clear case of not knowing what you don't know. The course content clarified participants’ role and responsibilities and shone a light on the skills and knowledge deficit.

“Now I have seen that ABV course has made me realised and helped a lot to know my roles and responsibilities as the Chairman and I will try my best to make decisions for the two Tenements,” said Gabriel. “Also, I look forward to working with ABV and make more awareness of our roles and pass onto our younger generations to come and join us to carry out this role and look at them as future next leaders to carry on this work”.

Deputy Chairman for Tenements Secretariat Martin Simol also praised the Newcrest initiative.

“It has truly enhanced the capacity of team leaders in their respective Tenement Landholder and Relocation Family Groups,” said Simol. “As most indicated after the course, this is their first time in their entire life to have attended such a course!

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