Papua New Guinea offers big opportunities for SMEs in the health and creative sectors


Entrepreneur Janet Sios told the recent Business Advantage PNG Investment Conference about the secret of her success and what sectors might provide the best new opportunities. 

Janet Sios and Business Advantage International’s Andrew Wilkins. Credit: BAI

Janet Sios is no ordinary businesswoman. If you asked her for career advice, she’d probably reply with something like ‘be clear on what you want, believe in it and don’t stop,’ which is exactly what she did to launch her first business.

Sios started her career as an air traffic controller. She then had the opportunity to go to university, and worked in the private sector for about 15 years.

After completing a degree in accounting and running a private hospital in Fiji with her husband, she decided to open her own SME, Frangipani Car Rental, a car rental service in Niugini Islands.

Despite all her experience, she faced many barriers to get a loan on her own.

‘I wanted financial independence from my husband and tried my best to convince financial institutions [to give me a loan],’ she says. After knocking on many doors, Credit Corporation PNG loaned her K2 million to start Frangipani. This was over 16 years ago.

Since, Sios has launched a printing business, the PNG Fashion and Design Week and is part-owner of the first privately-owned hospital in Port Moresby, Paradise Private Hospital.

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She believes things are changing in PNG, with financial institutions and the government giving more support to SMEs.

Look for what is needed

The businesswoman says there are still many opportunities in PNG for small business. For her, it’s a matter of choosing the right type of business..

‘At the end, you need to look at what’s needed in the local environment and understand how your [business] can serve that need. Do you have the right staff? Do you have the right infrastructure? Most [of the] time, it’s really a tough decision,’ explains Sios.

‘It’s a big business, health … You’ll never go out of business because people will always get sick and will always need you.’

For example, since many Papua New Guineans in rural areas earn a living making and selling crafts, Sios, through the PNG Fashion and Design Week, helps SMEs in the sector showcase their creations and, with support from the Australian Government, she has provided training for SMEs in five provinces. ‘This empowered many people in the creative sector,’ she says.

The opportunities for business are not only in this sector. She says there is disposable income in the country. ‘Papua New Guineas like to go out, eat out and enjoy a life. So, there’s a lot of need for restaurants and many other services too,’ she says.

Wellness boom

One area of  growth in PNG is the health sector, both in the public and private spheres. Sios explains that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the weaknesses of the sector as well as opportunities for expansion.

‘It’s a big business, health,’ Sios says. ‘You’ll never go out of business because people will always get sick and will always need you.

‘There is potential in pharmaceutical equipment and in many other areas of health. [We] need a lot of players to come into the space,’ she says.


  1. I am.a Teacher and has experimented waste sea shell powder as a cleaning detergent using 100 % natural local products which are chemical free.Can I be given the chance to expose my product?Please do let me know.
    Gemona Kila

  2. Yama Demas says

    Are there any SME loan facility available.

    Bsp.. kina Bank… ANZ Bank… etc are all ignorant…. too many paper work… too many enquiries… too many securities and look down on small smes. We felt hopeless and lost… some of us are not highly educated…

    We wish to work with SME financial institutions who are friendly… which means user friendly where we work with them… Simple loan… good relationship… regularly monitor and assist in business/investment opportunities for investment and LOAN FACILITY… THANKS.

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