Lae’s SME Incubator Hub: Growing local talent one bootcamp at a time


Julliane Terry, owner of the consultancy firm Tok Stret Consulting, has launched business incubator hub in Lae to foster innovation in PNG’s second city. ‘When something is happening in Lae, you can rest assured the rest of the country will benefit,’ she tells Business Advantage PNG.

From little things … Big things grow. Participants & staff at at the Lae SME Incubator Hub. Credit: Tok Stret Consulting

Through her company Tok Stret Consulting Ltd, Julliane Terry and her team have been offering consulting services in Lae, Papua New Guinea’s manufacturing and logistics hub, since 2017.

Tok Stret provides training, development and mentoring services to companies of every size as well as a Cultural Integration Program for Expats, which was created to raise awareness about cultural differences.

But 2020 was an uphill battle for Terry’s business, just as it was for many other companies. When COVID-19 hit, her phone didn’t stop ringing with bad news.

‘We had contracts lined up with big companies but everyone was calling to cancel or defer the programs, understandably,’ she tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘My husband and I sat down and looked at our skills. Our previous roles included management and corporate board experience. We knew we could help in maintaining large organisations operating while expats or senior nationals were out of the country due to COVID, so we did.

‘We also recognised that SMEs were suffering. We had put an SME program on the shelf for a while and were trying to get partnerships with the SME Corporation and Nambawan Super, but because corporate organisations have cumbersome processes it was taking a long time.

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So we decided to launch it regardless, and funded it with the mantra “From little things… Big things grow”.’

On 26 July 2020, Lae SME Incubator Hub (LSIH) was launched, with the aim to help develop small-to-medium-sized business in Lae.


Julliane Terry

Tok Stret’s Jullianne Terry. Credit: Tok Stret

‘Our platform is a one-stop shop for an MSME or SME – for anyone with a dream or already in business but struggling. Our programs are different to what is usually offered: most hubs in PNG are craft markets but ours is a place of learning, energy and growth.’

The hub offers short-burst sustained programs over six months. Terry describes them as ‘boot camps of the mind’, to develop core skills such as financial literacy, marketing, planning and budgeting, and healthy business habits.

Participants pay K10 for the program and work with, and learn from, other SMEs. Terry says that some participants have started to sell or utilise each other’s products and a few have signed partnerships with big companies. For example, the owner of the barbecue cooker business Kuk Blo Mi now has a support partnership with Origin Energy.

The hub is endorsed by the Lae City Authority and is in talks with the Small Medium Enterprise Corporation to use its workshops as a model for other hubs across the country.

‘When something is happening in Lae you can rest assured the rest of the country will benefit,’ says Terry. But she is keen to get the Lae model right first. ‘We still have a long way to go.’

Time to change

There are plans to move the hub from its current location at Okari Conference Centre to a new space within the same compound that will host the SME Incubator Building, an energy lab, WIFI hotspot and an internet café. The new centre will officially launch in March or April.

The move will also enable a disabled support program called Lost Tribe.

‘PNG is a country where our disabled people are overlooked, with little or no basic facilities,’ observes Terry, who is also a fierce advocate for equal gender participation and women’s rights.

She also plans to develop a community centre for women and girls where they would enjoy free access to WiFi, workshops and other programs to develop essential business skills, including financial and English literacy.

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