But Bishop also questioned the progress PNG had made on two important UN Millennium Development Goals, maternal health and infant mortality. Violence against women is a huge concern and PNG sits at 156 on the UN Human Development Index.
Joseph is CEO of export business, SA-BEAN International, and brings an in-depth knowledge of the people, the main language and the culture of PNG to her business. She also has an intense sense of corporate social responsibility something she maintains is essential in developing her company’s brand of Kenta Arabica Coffee to export to premium coffee markets around the world.
“Sustainable development and increasing gender equality within communities is a big focus for my work in Papua New Guinea together with local companies who I work with,” she says. “Focus on empowering women into higher levels of influence within business and community is a priority for Papua New Guinea.”
Encouragingly, she sees a higher level of support from banking sectors to allow women to have access to micro-financing options especially in the agricultural sector.
Papua New Guinea’s boom phase for resource extraction has quickly lead to increased export levels to worldwide markets but although the agricultural sector has been the traditional mainstay of economic growth, from Joseph’s perspective it has now taken a backseat due to increased focus and demand from the mining sector.
“My main focus is to attract investment into agriculture in particular coffee in Papua New Guinea,” she says. “We currently manage over 150 coffee farmers and are looking to double our database of farmers in the next year.
“We assist farmers with agricultural advice and other extension services in their communities. Farmers hold shares in the company and receive a percentage of profits from coffee export,” she says. (SA-BEAN International currently exports coffee to Germany, California and small parts to Australia.)
“We have already built a Health Clinic in the Kenta Village in the Highlands and want to improve local infrastructure in the communities such as schools, roads and other services which allow farmers and their communities a better standard of living.”
Remarkably, the coffee business is relatively new to her. Joseph was a secondary school teacher in remote parts of Australia for the past 13 years. She decided to make the switch to business 18 months ago to continue her deep connection with PNG and completed several short courses where she learnt about shipping and export logistics.
Her company’s strategic partnership with Rainforest Alliance, an international organisation that promotes sustainable communities through agriculture and ensures standards for biodiversity, provides the social responsibility arm to her business ensuring that while doing business in PNG Joseph is also genuinely giving back to the communities.
“We have started to introduce solar panels to the farmers and eventually I would love to be involved and see the building of a fully sustainable coffee facility in Papua New Guinea in the near future,” she says.
“But I’ve learnt that doing business in PNG takes a lot of time and the most important thing is to build the relationship with your customers, you really need to earn their trust and that takes time, I’m lucky because I have contacts on the ground, I know the culture and I speak the main language. In saying this…I know that it is an ever evolving journey and I feel thankful for being able to do business in such a beautiful part of the world, with amazing people and a cause that is close to my heart.”