Women lighting their futures and their communities

The women of PNG have traditionally carried the majority of domestic and household duties, childcare and community care as well as largely being responsible for providing food, housing and healthcare to family. They often have reduced decision-making capacity and autonomy over household finances.

Not so for the women involved in our Light Up PNG project! 

Light up PNG supports Women’s Groups to establish small businesses from which they can earn a regular income. Business skills training combined with literacy skills and training in the provision of solar light products are provided to women’s groups across remote and rural parts of PNG. When you invest in a woman, you are investing in the whole community, and benefits from the micro businesses help to support school project fees, educational resources and other community development initiatives.

The lack of reliable light limits people in undertaking daily activities such as business, reading, schoolwork, and household chores. It also increases safety and security risks for families as darkness provides an easy cover for crime during the night. Solar lighting and energy technology presents a significant opportunity to provide clean, sustainable and durable lighting solutions to off-grid communities in PNG. So the Light Up PNG micro business project is a win-win for the community!

We currently work with a number of Women’s Groups established in Oro and New Ireland provinces and the Autonomous of Bougainville.

Established with a high level of community consultation, each group is provided with a start-up capital investment and a training program that focuses on small business skills, including basic bookkeeping and accounting, marketing and sales, and reinvesting profits back into the business. We also provide important literacy training and training in the ongoing maintenance of the solar products that the women are selling.

Our two Women’s Groups in New Ireland Province (Pinikadu and Kimaden) have successfully made a reinvestment of 100% of their sales from the first Phase of the project (200 lights). They committed significant time over the first 9 months of the project and by mid 2018 had sold all start-up lights and purchased their second batch of lights via KTF. Excitingly, they are now underway selling this batch and moving into profit territory.

We are about to undertake a monitoring trip to the groups we support in New Ireland Province and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, spending time with the women, discussing elements of the program that are working well and identify where there are challenges for continuous improvement and ultimately success. We will also continue to monitor business activities, competition in the regions, and supply chain management. 

We look forward to expanding the project to include more groups pf extraordinary women and to explore alternative products, including soap and female hygiene products, to maximize sales, reinvestment  and success women’s groups across PNG.

Light Up PNG is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

Anita Russell