Business and mindset coaching offers key to covid recovery for women-led businesses in PNG

How 8 hours of business and mindset coaching for one small business owner can ensure the business survival and continued support of up to 55 small-micro businesses and up to 300 people.


Business adaption coaching for Women-led SMEs in PNG – mid term update

Eighteen months after the COVID-19 outbreak first caused a global health emergency and an economic slowdown, thousands of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) across Papua New Guinea (PNG) remain impacted. As borders remain closed, ‘road to recovery’ expectations have been extended and business owners face a persistent decline in revenues and increasing expenses. This ongoing uncertainty, as well as the normal pressures of life, continue to have a negative toll on mental health.

SMEs play a vital economic role for communities across in PNG contributing $2.5 billion to the economy, employing 291,348 people1 and connecting thousands to market. As the global pandemic was declared (in March 2020), PNG shut its borders, causing immediate disruption to tourism and supply chains. Overnight the tourism sector lost K65.9 million2 and thousands of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) became unable to trade due market closures and restrictions. Within two months, 84% of businesses reported a decline in income (58% a significant decline)3; with female-owned/led businesses disproportionately affected.

In response, TDi, with the support of the Australian Government through the PNG-Australia Partnership, launched an “adaptation” coaching pilot program in June 2020, coaching 20 women-led SMEs over a period of four months. The pilot program proved successful in improving the ability of SMEs to survive the crisis and to experience less stress.

Based on the success of this pilot, TDi has been funded to deliver two core elements of an expanded Coaching Program, in partnership with WBRC4:

1. A coaching program supporting 100 women-led SMEs nationwide, delivered over four rounds of coaching

2. A year-long Local Business Coach advanced development program that trains PNG business owners/entrepreneurs to be business coaches

The coaching program aims to provide business and mindset coaching to improve the ability of PNG businesswomen to adapt to a new COVID normal, navigate uncertainty and reduce their stress. The program has been designed to address both mindset and technical aspects of business management, requiring skilful emotional support and strategic business advice.


The program has been running since May 2021. During this time TDi has provided 221 hours of complex business and mindset coaching to 31 businesses across 8 provinces and 17 industries. All of these businesses were women-owned and led. In addition, four amazing PNG businesswomen have been recruited, inducted, and are training (through structured and unstructured learning) to become high-quality coaches.

The initial stages of this project have achieved significant outcomes.

“I never felt that joy in a very long time. It was like a heavy load offloaded from me and even after we spoke. I still had tears in my eyes. Thank you for your commitment in helping women to come out of their self and be able to Express freely what they should say without fear or favour. Thank you for your commitment and what you are doing for our country. This will empower us to be more confident in all our walks of life especially in a society where Male are dominant.”

– Guest House Owner, Madang


Key findings for the SME coaching program include:

    • 100% of participating businesses agree that the coaching increased their chance of survival
    • 100% have a greater belief in themselves and their business, as a result of the coaching
    • 100% would highly recommend this program to others
    • 100% agree other SMEs will benefit from the type of support provided
    • 100% believe that the coaching program helped them to build new business skills
    • 96% feel less stressed as a result of the coaching
    • 91% feel more confident
    • 91% feel that they have greater focus and/or motivation
    • 87% feel clearer on their goals and priorities
    • 83% feel more aware of what has been holding them back

Based on the above results, Round 1 of coaching has helped to improve the survival and strength of 31 women-owned businesses, who provide a primary income for 1,738 other small and micro businesses, in turn supporting 9,480 people across PNG5. By the completion of this program this number could be greater than 38,000 individuals.


Partnering and building local capacity to increase reach

TDi are working with WBRC to recruit and coach a total of 100 women-led SMEs (or deliver 800 hours of coaching) over four rounds of coaching from May through to December, with an average of 200 hours of coaching per round. Participating businesses are selected from across the nation and across all sectors, based on a specific selection criterion.

In parallel, the Local Business Coach (LBC) advanced development program trains four (4) PNG national businesswomen to become high quality business coaches. LBCs receive training and practical development over the life of the program (through until December) and are integral to the delivery of the SME coaching.

Initial feedback from the Local Business Coaches indicates that the advanced development program is delivering high quality outcomes. All apprentice coaches have rated the program strongly and have shared that the program is providing a safe, respectful, and flexible environment that encourages focus, learning and growth in confidence and perspective. Over the course of the program LBCs will each conduct approximately 200 hours of paid contract work, working alongside consultants from TDi to coach women-led SMEs. The goal is to have at least two high quality coaches by graduation, endorsed by TDi, that could be employed by WBRC directly from 2022.


What’s next?

We commenced Round 2 (of four) of coaching in early August 2021. With the support of the WBRC, we spoke with 72 applicants and selected 30 participating businesses. We are excited to be working with another great group of women and we look forward to seeing their personal and business growth.



Case Study:

PNG Business Coaching Pilot Program Case Study


Flexible and responsive coaching is key to sustaining women’s economic empowerment during a crisis

Why mindset matters to women’s entrepreneurship and why we should invest in it, especially now



1SME Policy 2016:

2Business Advantage PNG: new-guinea/

3Pacific Business Monitor – Survey 1:

4In addition, and separately, WBRC will develop a Business Support Services: Hotline and E-Library to support the program. Details regarding this component (including design, impact, etc.) will be reported on separately by WBRC.

5Based on 31 businesses, 127 employees and 1738 MSMEs and an average PNG household size of 5.0.

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