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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 12, 2002 – Post-Courier)---Business is booming on Bougainville Island. But a lack of financing is hindering further progress.

A recent joint survey by the Bougainville administration’s Division of Commerce and AusAID, under the PNG Advisory Support Facility (ASF), revealed that nearly 3,000 non-agricultural businesses are operating on the island.

ASF advisor Abdi Roble said despite these developments, the potential of the business sector is constrained by factors associated with the province.

"The major constraining factors identified by the survey are lack of financing, infrastructure, security and business development services. Of all this, the most hindering problem is financing," Mr. Roble said.

He said although a large number of micro-finance schemes operate on the island, a link has to be established between these micro-finance schemes and the commercial banks in the country, otherwise "business financing impact of micro-finance and micro credit schemes alone will be limited."

"Micro finance schemes, due to their grassroots nature, have access to an untapped segment of rural economy where demand for credit is very high and growing. They can also be used by the banks as savings mobilization vehicles," he said.

Mr. Roble also said that the Division of Commerce created a database for all businesses operating in the province, including their locations, size, number of employees, gender of the owner and the type of business.

"The number and the size of businesses operating in the province indicate that the prospects are very high. As a result of the crisis, foreign businesses left the province and almost all businesses operating on the island are owned and run by Bougainvilleans," Mr. Roble said.

"Almost all business owners are Bougainvilleans with no business background and the majority of these businesses did not receive any outside assistance. Informants interviewed indicated that they need both financial and technical assistance."

The report also recommended the formulation of a business development work plan with two major objectives: the enhancement of existing business through establishment of financing sources and creation of business forums.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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