The commercial nous of Western Province tourism businesses has received a boost thanks to a small business mentoring program recently held in Munda.

The month-long program was implemented by Australian volunteers Peter Langoulant and Phil Tremethick and it focussed on topics such as financial management, planning, marketing, managing employees, and other areas essential to growing a successful business.

Peter and Phil, who between them have several decades of experience in business, delivered five days of workshops and also visited businesses to provide one-on-one mentoring to participants.

At the beginning of the program the 18 participants, most of whom are the owners or managers of hotels or lodges were asked about the challenges faced by tourism businesses in Western Province. The most common response was a general lack of knowledge about the nuts and bolts of running a successful business, as well as communications issues, such as slow internet. There was particular interest in training in marketing and promotion, key elements of a successful tourism business.

Peter and Phil are enthusiastic about the opportunity to learn about the local culture while making a practical contribution to the community through the transfer of business skills and knowledge.

Providing 45%1 of formal employment in developing countries, small to medium enterprises are increasingly seen by donors and international development organisations as essential to broad-based economic participation. According to the International Finance Corporation ‘small and medium enterprises are the missing link to inclusive growth.’

Delivered under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government initiative, with the assistance of Pacific Island Trade and Invest (PITI), the program was development by Australian not-for-profit ‘ABV’. ABV, which seeks to alleviate poverty by working to strengthen small business, has run nearly 40 such programs across the Pacific and Indonesia, including seven in the Solomon Islands between 2004 and 2010.

“Tourism is a key driver for economic growth in the Pacific creating much needed jobs for local communities” said Chad Morris, PITI Manager Investment & Tourism. “We are delighted to help bring this program to Munda. The skills that local business will gain from attending the workshops will only have a positive effect on them and the local tourism industry.”

“Tourism is obviously important to Western Province, and there is so much potential for the industry to grow,” said the CEO of ABV Sarah O’Connor, speaking from Canberra.

“Each time we run one of these small business programs we tailor it to meet the needs of the particular audience, and so for this program Peter and Phil are tailoring the content so that it’s appropriate for people working in the local tourism industry.”

“With these new skills these local businesses will be better placed to build the reputation of the area with tourists.”

“It’s a great opportunity.”

Press Release: Australian High Commission Office