Laikim Sisters PNG reflection

PNG-Aus Partnership program connects a different kind of entrepreneurial network

“I’m very, very passionate about Indigenous female entrepreneurship, so, when I heard that this was going to be a cultural exchange that was purely women, that was really, really exciting.”

Kylie Lee Bradford is one of 18 female entrepreneurs in a pilot program, Laikim Sister.

The program is an initiative of the Australian Government under the #PNGAusPartnership to connect Indigenous Australian and PNG women entrepreneurs across three industries: traditional foods, cultural tourism and creative arts.

The program is uniquely designed to deepen the trade connections between the PNG and Indigenous Australia at a grassroots level, and to spark innovation in the represented industries by sharing the experiences and stories of gender, culture, and business of the women.

“The key learning [from the program], for me, has been resilience.  Especially when Betty told her story.  She spoke about overcoming hardship in her life and business life and community.  [She’s] come from such a tough background, but she’s motored on, and shown great strength and resilience and to this day she’s still such a leader in community and her family.  It was emotional to hear her story, and her power and strength was felt in abundance,” said Ms Bradford, of her fellow participant.

Ms Bradford grew up in a small Aboriginal community called Patonga in the heart of Kakadu National Park, Australia. She founded Kakadu Tiny Tots and now runs Kakadu Tucker which sells wild-harvested, native Australian bushfoods, teas and skin care.

“Losing my mum recently, has put a massive strain on my capabilities and strengths.  So being able to connect with a lot of PNG women who have gone through so much hardship has really inspired me to continue my journey and continue my mum’s legacy and live her strength and her light,” she said.

The program – which resumes in February 2020, in Cairns Australia – provides immersive cultural and business experiences and discussions, allowing the women to share knowledge and insight across their cultures, and spark ideas and innovation across the industries they work in.

“Being able to learn from the PNG women is incredible.  Their culture, their protocols, the way they do things – it’s so great to learn from. I think we’ve all got so much value to give and I feel like this community and this movement has to continue. What’s been created here is an amazing opportunity that should continue over a very long time.  There’s nothing like it, and there’s so much we can learn from each other,” said Ms Bradford.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Laikim Sister program or the businesses involved, please email

Laikim Sisters PNG

Long-standing cultural connections forge new trade links between Australia and PNG

For Carol Vale, co-founder of Game Enough? – an Indigenous Australian bush foods and game meat company based in Brisbane, Australia – the Laikim Sister pilot program has deepened her connections with Papua New Guinea (PNG) both professionally and personally.

Game Enough? creates foods and beverages that adopt the flavours of the Australian bush.

The company has long imported crocodile from PNG, however, the Laikim Sister program has opened opportunities for Vale to export to Australia’s closest neighbour.

“We’re looking to export our products particularly Kangaroo and Emu to international markets, and this program has given me the opportunities and the connections to export to PNG which I hadn’t considered previously,” said Vale.

Laikim Sister is an Australian Government supported pilot program under the PNG-Australia Partnership that connects Indigenous Australian and PNG women entrepreneurs. TDi is privileged to be the implementation partner for this great program.

The program highlights that there are deeply embedded and long-standing connections between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and when highlighted, they create opportunity for business and industry growth.

“My first week [in the program was] absolutely amazing on so many levels. For me, [I got to experience] a 75-year-old story in my family that is very much a part of my father’s bloodline – our family’s service men and women’s cultural identity came alive for me here in PNG,” said Vale.

Vale's my great uncle’s grave site, Owen Stanley Ranges, PNG

Vale’s great uncle, Private Frank Richard Archibald, fought in the Second World War, and was killed on the Owen Stanley ranges of PNG. Before he died, he wrote home to  his mother (Vale’s great grandmother) and asked that if his sister Hazel (Vale’s grandmother) had a son, to name him Richard, after him.

Vale’s grandmother did have a son (Vale’s father) and named him Richard Owen Stanley.

“To go out and visit my great uncle’s grave site, to sit there and talk to him with my father and grandmother’s photos in front of me and remember the amazing story that comes from that is just something that I will be forever grateful for,” Vale said.

Through the Laikim Sisters program, Vale met Nellie Varmari, who runs a coffee wholesale business, Central Mamina Fresh Coffee.

Varmari sells coffee throughout PNG, which she sources from the Owen Stanley ranges. Varmari, who has worked in the coffee industry for many years, built Central Mamina Fresh Coffee 18 months ago.

“I was working for PNG coffee, and then superior coffee, and I thought to myself – I could do this, coffee grows in my region,” Varmari said.

Nellie's coffee business Central Mamina Fresh Coffee
Nellie started her coffee business Central Mamina Fresh Coffee 18 months ago.

“When I started, I didn’t have any money… I had to borrow money from my children, for my first 20kg. I would test it to see if it worked.  I went around to all the businesses in Port Moresby by foot to sell my coffee. I was working so hard – in the morning I would put on my Superior Coffee uniform and work, and in the afternoon, I would put on my Central Mamina uniform and work again. Eventually, my boss at Superior Coffee said to me ‘you are passionate, you must pursue your business’,” Varmari said.

Ms Vale, who had been searching for a coffee line for her business for some time, was moved by Nellie’s story of hard work, and the fact that she sourced coffee from the same place as her great uncle served in the war.

“When Nellie told me she doesn’t have a car and catches a bus to meet people and sell her coffee, her story of determination resonated with me. I’ve decided I want to import coffee from Nellie, from the Owen Stanley ranges because of the story and the connection of that place, which is about our place. And to hear from the Papua New Guinean sisters about the significance of the Owen Stanley ranges, just made this week even more special. They spoke about how it’s such an important part of their cultural identity and I thought – what a nice thread,” Ms Vale said.

A part of Vale’s long-term goal for Game Enough? is to have a coffee line as part of their offerings. She will source Varmari’s coffee which will underpin Game Enough’s new coffee line Callie’s Coffee. Incidentally, Callie is the nickname that Carol’s grandmother gave to her and thus the connection between two Laikim Sisters.

The Laikim Sister cohort will meet in Cairns, Australia for part two of the program in February 2020.

The focus will be on formalising trade and collaboration connections that the women have begun to form through the program. For Ms Varmari, she sees this as an opportunity into the Australian market.

“I am working hard to source enough coffee to take with me to Cairns.  I want to make Carol happy but also, we will have a market as part of the program and I hope to sell some there,” Varmari said.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Laikim Sister program or the businesses involved, please email

Here's to the difference makers...

Australia’s bushfire disaster has shown that hope and leadership can come from unlikely places and shows us a new way forward.


We entered this new year in a tumultuous way, as our beautiful country burns, homes lost, people displaced and devastation of wildlife and bushland. This is a time for leadership, compassion and finding a different way forward.

We’ve been encouraged by those who have stepped up in this crisis. They’ve come from sometimes unexpected places, but offer hope as they seek to be the difference makers. Here’s just a few…


The crafters

Who knew knitting or sewing would be a top skill required to help in this disaster? The need for pouches for rescued wildlife has led to spontaneous sewing bees, crafting groups responding from community libraries here and as far away as Ireland. Sew Much Easier is just one of the many sites putting calls out for sewing help.


The connectors

People have used their connections and coordination skills to get food and medical supplies, food for farm animals and practical support to communities. Gippsland Jersey has been instrumental in organizing hay to be transported to fire affected farms in East Gippsland.


The artists, poets, musicians and comedians

The role art plays in bringing hope and expression has been so evident as we’ve seen many musicians, poets, artists and comedians rise to the occasion. Celeste Barber’s appeal captured the hearts of many, while artists near and far have responded with gifts, relief concerts, art shows, and the Australian Open Rally for Relief that saw $5 million raised to support fire affected communities.


The innovators

Adversity breeds innovation like nothing else. It has been remarkable to new initiatives spring to life so quickly in response to the devastating bushfires.Small business is a topic close to our hearts, so we’ve particularly loved these initiatives designed to support and promote the businesses impacted by the loss of trade from the fires. Jump on board:

EmptyEmpty Esky, It my shout It's My Shout, and Spend With Them, to name a few.

The defenders

No doubt that these guys are the real heroes on the front lines. They are risking their lives, many voluntarily, missing their family, their Christmas. The CFA, Fire Rescue, Forest Fire Management, plant and equipment owners, Victoria Police, our Australian Defence Force and Army Reservists.


The carers

It’s times like these where we see the power and strength of Food Bank, Red Cross, The Salvos responding on the scene. Not to mention all of the wildlife groups, and the vets donating their time to help.


The givers

Our Pacific neighbours supporting Australians with resources and financial donations. The Australian public who have given their financial donations – Celeste Barber’s fundraising alone has raised over $50 million! If you’re a giver you can head here for options:

Here’s to the Difference Makers.

And here’s to a new decade of rediscovering our interconnectedness to each other and to the land, as we seek to bring health and wellbeing to people and our planet.



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The Full Monty the movie, and the next economy

From Anna Moegerlein, Principal


The Full Monty is one of my favourite movies. Recently I stumbled across a chapter by J. K Gibson-Graham (2006) describing the film through the lens of the next economy. It took my appreciation to a whole other level.


The Full Monty is set in Sheffield in the England shortly after the closure of the steelworks. A group of unemployed men gather each day at the Job Club. Some are looking for work, others have given up all together. Then a male strip show comes to town and a small group of the local men, led by Gaz, decide to put on their own show to rival the Chippendales.


Things don’t go so well initially. There’s an excruciating scene where one man is auditioning for a part in the group. He fumbles, stops halfway and runs out. This is followed by a hilarious scene with an older black man who stuns the group with his charismatic dance moves. The film strikes the perfect balance between funny and sad.


What Gibson-Graham so deftly point out is that The Full Monty is a story of economic transition that actually goes well. The central characters give themselves permission to embrace a more flexible male identity (that includes vulnerability and creativity), they’re thoroughly successful in their enterprise and are celebrated by their community.


In their book, Gibson-Graham talk about how important identity and agency are to successful economic transition, and specifically to an economy that is more inclusive, more equitable and not dependent on fossil fuels. In fact, they suggest that the task of building this new economy is more about performing different economic identities (identities that moves beyond ‘homo-economicus’ to include work/business that integrates purpose, as well our interdependency with the natural world, among other things), than it is about macro-economic planning. I’d suggest it’s both, but the stories we tell ourselves and our national economic narrative is absolutely putting the brakes on change.


Gibson-Graham’s book also reminded me of how important community is to any transition. People need hope, agency and the encouragement of their peers. There’s also that point where you let go, step into the unknown and see what happens.

The stories we tell ourselves

If you have ever dreamt of a society with great wealth, distributed fairly and intended exclusively for the wellbeing of its people then maybe you have dreamt of Europe’s first great civilization – the Minoan empire on the island of Crete, 4600 years ago.

The Minoans created a seafaring empire. Their ships sailed to all points of the Mediterranean peninsula for trade. They built well-developed roads connecting 100 cities across the island of Crete.

For 500+ years they lived in peace. The Minoan capital of Knossos had no defense walls and no army. The capital did not feel threatened by the other cities in their domain, nor any of its citizens. Its rule of law relied upon equitable distribution of wealth and strong, connected leadership.

The Minoan palace was the heart of the city. It had 1,400 rooms, which housed schoolrooms, government services, artist workshops and theatres. Wide corridors and large rooms made space for thousands of citizens to come and go.

Archaeologists found impressive multi-coloured wall paintings depicting day-to-day life and the Minoan’s reverence for nature. People, animals and plants were joyously painted in bright colours. It is also clear from these paintings that women had an important role in all aspects of society; if not higher than men, than certainly equal. They competed on an equal basis to men in the athletic games, even in the most daring events.



The Minoan civilization came to an end in 1630 BC when a volcano on a neighboring island triggered a tsunami and ash clouds. Archaeologists found that the buildings had fallen outwards as they collapsed, presumably full with water.

Today the Minoan society seems quite remarkable. First that it existed and second that it is so little known. A European civilization that was well off and shared that wealth and power among its citizens, and revered the earth’s living systems? Doesn’t seem possible. But it was, and it lasted for 500 years. 500 years of a different world-view, standing in clear contrast to most, if not all, ancient (and many modern) European civilizations that have sought to accumulate wealth and power. It can’t help but inspire optimism… and we can’t help wondering, what might we begin to build if we truly believed in our own wisdom and generosity?

Avengers: Endgame - an analysis

A few of us in the TDi office contributed to the Avengers: Endgame’s astonishing $1.7b opening week at the box office.  For one of our Consultants, Erin, however, it turned out to be far more meaningful than expected, leaving her with pearls of wisdom relevant to much of the work we do, and the philosophies we follow at TDi.  Her analysis is below.

For me, I took away two key messages from Avengers: Endgame:
1. vulnerability, and
2. new types leadership

Now for two key warnings:
1. spoilers below
2. I’m about to go full film nerd

Let's start with vulnerability. This was key to Thor’s storyline of “accepting who he was, not who he ‘needs’ to be” – straight from the works of Brené Brown.

It also came up in Thanos’ “inevitability” storyline in that the Avengers couldn’t accept what happened and were trying to change the course of things... and yet they ‘inevitably’ still landed in battle with Thanos over the infinity gauntlet.  Again, this aligns with Brené’s work:  stop hiding behind perfectionism, trying to “fix” things or make things “right”.

At a macro level, I think Marvel as a brand were also being vulnerable by firmly ending the Avengers series. This is generally a big deal for film companies! They will try and milk a cash cow until it’s insulting to audiences (cough - Fast and the Furious - cough) but Marvel were brave and chose to end the legacy. Let it be what it is, rather than trying to make it more. And the risk has paid off, the finality of the film has taken the record for highest grossing opening week, and on course to highest grossing film of all time.

The message around new types leadership is potentially more subtle, right at the end of the film when all the white, male, superheroes ‘retire’ as leaders, handing over responsibility to minority groups represented in film:

  • Celebrating the strength of Captain Marvel and Black Panther
  • Thor handing over the ‘ruling’ of Asgard to Valkyrie
  • But perhaps most poignantly Captain America handing the shield to Falcon.  Cap asks “what does it feel like?” to which Falcon replies “someone else’s” to which Cap replies “it’s not” …  !!!!!!!!!!!!

I believe this was an intentional metaphor to say, it’s time to see other versions of leaderships in the spotlight...  It also highlighted that in exchange, both Thor and Captain America received happiness and love respectively in exchange for leadership – giving them equally as fulfilling lives.

Again, at a macro level, this reinforced for me the importance of good storytelling. These films are a powerful vehicle hitting nearly 2 billion eyeballs globally. Like, what if the starting point for this film was messages of vulnerability and recognising new age leadership?

I know most cinema-goers don’t go full cinephile taking away such deep messages, and rather walk away saying “that was awesome!” But if behavioural economics has taught me anything, it’s that these things don’t have to register front of mind, to stay with you and affect you. And if the value proposition canvas of a Do Good Make Money business has taught me anything, it’s that you give people something they want, and then educate them on your social purpose.