Raga Leana was a featured speaker at Inspire, a joint event with ABV and Lihir Gold Limited in Lihir, Papua New Guinea. The audience comprised 75% women, and the event aimed to inspire local female entrepreneurship. Raga reflected on the significance of this event, stating, "This event was so important to me because I always tell the women around me that they don't need a formal education to start a business. You can dream big but start small with what you have."
During her speech, Raga emphasised being a "self-starter," as she believes it best describes her approach to life. She shared how this concept goes beyond business and began with small personal goals she dreamed of after becoming a homemaker at a young age. Everything she does now honours the creativity and determination of her younger self.
Raga's "passion for fashion" led her to teach herself how to sew by repurposing secondhand clothes. Her early designs are still worn by her 24-year-old daughter, a testament to Raga's craftsmanship. Observing her community, she noticed a gap in the current market, stating, "Printed fabric is the same everywhere, but everyone wants to be different. Women, especially working women, want to stand out in their clothes." Raga began to hand-paint designs featuring symbols of Papua New Guinea's rich cultural heritage to set herself apart.
Raga started receiving local orders through her Facebook page, Auna Tiares. The Facebook business market in Papua New Guinea is thriving, and as Raga's page grew, she also gained interest from customers in Australia. From this experience, Raga believes that a solid social media presence is an excellent stepping stone for any start-up.
Next for Raga is to create a line of bedding, tablecloths, and other homewares, all featuring her distinctive PNG designs. When asked about her life outside of work, Raga laughed and said that her business is not just a means of earning income but also her hobby. Every day, she enjoys her work by doing what she loves.
Raga expressed her gratitude for Inspire;
"When ABV gave me the opportunity to go to Lihir and inspire other women, I thought I might say no because I am not an outspoken person. But when I gave that speech, it gave me a breakthrough with my confidence. I want to put myself out there more now and know I can.
Nellie Varmari (Left - speaking) and Raga Leana (Right)