Building Indigenous Papuan entrepreneurship skills


Yuliana Pigai travels each day with her husband to the Jayapura traditional market to earn a daily wage to keep her family afloat. Her inventory is vast, but she admits she has no idea how much money she earns.

“For more than 12 years running the business, I have never had any bookkeeping. I never knew how much money I earn or spend, or who lends money from me. I have never even had any savings,” she said.

That turned around when she participated in a workshop supported by UNDP’s People Centred Development Programme (PCDP) in conjunction with the ILO.  The GET Ahead (Gender and Entrepreneurship Together) training was developed by the ILO and it promotes the economic and social empowerment of women alongside men in enterprises. This training package is part of PCDP efforts to enhance local economic development in Papua and West Papua provinces through establishing sustainable livelihoods that support indigenous Papuans.

The training offered participants basic business skills like bookkeeping. This small investment has had large benefits for women like Mama Yuliana, as she is known in the market.

“After receiving the training, I now understand why the income I earn during the day always ran out at night; because I don’t know how to manage my income, how much money I get and how much money I spend,” she said.

Participants were informed about micro-credit opportunities and how to save their small business income by experts in the financial sector. Bank Papua and BRI facilitators not only shared vital information, but also established links between the sector and small business owners, many of whom had never applied for credit.

“If we don’t manage money wisely then we might not be able to build let alone expand it,” said Mama Yuliana.

Mama Yuliana, as she is known in the market, hasn’t let her lack of formal education hold her back. The Paniai native heads the Mama-Mama Papua trader association, a coalition of sellers, mostly women, who trade their wares in the market each day.  Women play a pivotal role in household finances, but as is the case in the Jayapura market, they also have a significant role in balancing the workload with their husbands.

In addition to the financial management material, the training also teaches about gender equality. According to Mama Yuliana, the division of work between husbands and wives in a family business is really important to keep things running smoothly. Prior to the training, Mama Yuliana and her husband ran their side of the business separately; they never recorded their income or expenditure. Now, Mama Yuliana says they are a team and it’s working better than before.

In the future, PCDP will help the traders association,“Mama-Mama Papua” Cooperative (Koperasi Mama-Mama Pedagang Asli Papua, KOMMPAP). to enable them to establish a Business Development Service Provider (BDSP) and further participate in the centre for local business development that will be enacted in five districts across Papua and West Papua. The center will be part of efforts for sustainable livelihood development for Indigenous Papua.