How an ex­port com­pany be­came a thriv­ing busi­ness

David James speaks to the owner of a thriv­ing Bougainville ex­port com­pany on how to suc­cess­fully es­tab­lish a busi­ness.

Paradise - - Contents -

Sankamap Ex­ports was started in Bougainville in 2011. It ex­ports co­pra and co­coa, and is de­scribed as the lead­ing co­coa buyer on Buka Is­land. Founder Robert Critch­ley, who has a mother from Bougainville and an Aus­tralian fa­ther, says one of the keys to its suc­cess was es­tab­lish­ing the right lo­cal busi­ness re­la­tion­ships.

He says he built a good net­work to help him es­tab­lish his busi­ness.

“One of the most in­flu­en­tial and im­por­tant fac­tors was se­cur­ing a mar­ket and con­nect­ing to in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.”

Critch­ley says he was able to at­tract seed cap­i­tal from an in­vestor.

“This al­lowed me to be more com­pet­i­tive against the ex­ist­ing buy­ers in Bougainville. Hav­ing a Bougainville mother also no doubt helped se­cure this mar­ket share.”

Critch­ley says the com­pany ex­ports on aver­age 1500 to 2000 tonnes of dry co­pra a month. It also ex­ports 30 to 60 tonnes of dry co­coa.

“We spend an aver­age of PGK2000 per day on co­coa and co­pra purchased from the farm­ers.

“My com­pany also em­ploys over 100 em­ploy­ees, our work­ers.”

Critch­ley says the com­pany has di­ver­si­fied into other busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing prop­erty con­struc­tion. It has also moved

One of the most in­flu­en­tial and im­por­tant fac­tors was con­nect­ing to in­ter­na­tional in­vestors.

into ship­ping. Critch­ley says get­ting ships to come to Bougainville is prob­lem­atic, and it is dif­fi­cult to get ship­ping in­sur­ance.

He hopes that his ship­ping ser­vice will re­sult in more com­pet­i­tive freight rates into Bougainville.

“Hope­fully, with lower freight rates, it also low­ers the cost of goods into Bougainville,” he says. “Bougainville has one of the high­est cost of goods in PNG.”

Critch­ley is look­ing to add value to the co­coa and co­pra ex­ports through down­stream pro­cess­ing.

“I am also look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties in other ex­port mar­kets. Fish­eries, log­ging and hope­fully I will get into im­port­ing as well.”

Critch­ley says he is hop­ing to in­crease the num­bers of sup­ply­ing farm­ers and im­prove the ser­vice that he pro­vides to them.

“This cus­tomer sup­ply and ori­en­ta­tion is key to busi­ness in Bougainville. Busi­nesses are be­ing built and there are op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vestors.”

Critch­ley is pres­i­dent of the Buka Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, which was es­tab­lished last year. He says the as­so­ci­a­tion is recog­nised by the Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion of Bougainville gov­ern­ment as the voice of the pri­vate sec­tor on the is­land.

“We know that the pri­vate sec­tor needs a voice. The as­so­ci­a­tion ex­ists to rep­re­sent mem­bers’ views to the gov­ern­ment, to build trade and in­vest­ment net­works, and to help busi­ness peo­ple to be com­pli­ant.”

Critch­ley ac­knowl­edges that form­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion has not been straight­for­ward.

But he says par­tic­i­pants even­tu­ally be­gan to see the value in work­ing to­gether to in­flu­ence poli­cies and to net­work. There are now 40 mem­bers.

He says he is de­vel­op­ing re­la­tion­ships with other busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tions, both in­side and out­side PNG, to strengthen trade and in­vest­ment.

“We are look­ing to learn from other as­so­ci­a­tions. We also want to have all as­so­ci­a­tions col­lab­o­rate in es­tab­lish­ing a Bougainville Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion. Bougainville has come a long way and ad­mit­tedly we have a long way to go if we are to in­crease the level of pri­vate in­vest­ment.

“But I be­lieve Bougainville has a bright fu­ture.”

Robert Critch­ley … says that es­tab­lish­ing the right busi­ness re­la­tion­ships was im­por­tant in set­ting up his co­pra and co­coa ex­port com­pany.

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