Press Release

5 winners for Agri-MSME Challenge Fund-PNG

  • November 23, 2021

  • Port-Moresby, Papua New Guinea

For further information contact:

Lorraine Basse
Communications Assistant
UNCDF Papua New Guinea


Five out of nine shortlisted applicants were announced as winners of a three-day Agri-MSME Challenge Fund-PNG Bootcamp held at the Apec House from the 22nd to the 24th of November 2021.

The Bootcamp was hosted by The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in partnership with Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) SME Accelerator Program and supported by the European Union (EU) funded Support to Rural Entrepreneurship, Investment and Trade in Papua New Guinea (STREIT PNG) program.

AgUnity Pty Ltd, Nationwide Microbank Limited, PNG Agriculture Company, Sere J Pacific Limited and Fintech Oceania (PNG) Ltd were selected by a six-member jury panel to work with UNCDF PNG team in developing their performance-based grant proposals and provide technical assistant as well as mentorship support over a span of nine to twelve months.

The winners as well as the other applicants (Agri-Tech Organics, IT Galax, Traseable Solutions and Papua New Guinea Institute of Banking and Business Management) were introduced to design thinking approaches by business mentors from the private sector and had the opportunity to refine their solutions before pitching it to the jury panel.

The panel included Mr. Ellison Pidik, Assistant Governor, Banking Supervision Division, from the Bank of Papua New Guinea, Sir Mahesh Patel, Chairman of City Pharmacy Limited (CPL) Group, Dr. Sun Xuebing, STREIT Programme Coordinator of FAO, Mr. Christian Reichel, Operation Officer of Agriculture and Operations at IFC, Mr. Des Yaninen, President of PNG SME Council, and Mr. Marco Arena, Attaché – Programme Manager of Environment and Digitalization from the EU Delegation of PNG.

The goal of this challenge fund is to promote and upscale solutions for enhancing agriculture enterprise development to alleviate financial and other constraints suffered by agricultural enterprises located in the rural developing Sepik region following COVID-19. UNCDF through the Agri-MSME Challenge Fund, will support service providers in deploying innovative solutions that will help Agriculture Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (Agri-MSME) to grow their businesses by addressing the challenges of access to market, financial services, efficient systems, information, and skills.

The fund is designed to support the achievement of the goals identified under the STREIT program, currently implemented in the Sepik region in focusing and adding value to three value chains of Cocoa, Vanilla, and fisheries in the Sepik region and capacities that those value chain actors in their access to finance, knowledge, information, and markets.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator a.i. Mr. Dirk Wagener who opened the pitching day said “this challenge fund is a prime example of how we can leverage private sector led innovations for connecting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with the broader eco-systems that catalyse participation of MSMEs in the local economy of Sepik, PNG. The Agri-MSME Challenge Fund tackles a critical challenge of revitalizing local economic development in the agricultural sector of Sepik and eventually beyond, enabling MSMEs to access the emerging digital solutions and marketplaces”.

Mr. Dirk Wagener said “the pandemic has made one thing clear: those who are able to leverage digital tools are likely to be more resilient and persevere through this and similar crises in the future. That is why it is critical to support local businesses and entrepreneurs with technical knowledge and tools so they can test solutions that will promote the access to market, access to financial services, effective integration of value chains and support services and efficient business process management to strengthen the agriculture sector”.

Assistant Governor of BPNG, Governor Mr. Ellison Pidik said “through this holistic approach we see leading solutions being identified which can further financial inclusion by overcoming some of the barriers we see. BPNG is very appreciative of the initiative and pleased to be joint implementors and keen to support innovations it brings to PNG market”.
Assistant Governor Pidik further said “BPNG established the Retail Electronic Payments Switch (REPS) and now aiming to expand the benefits of the switch by bringing in different players to be part of it for facilitating electronic payments which are critical to e-commerce and building digital economy”.

EU Deputy Head of Cooperation and Team Leader – Plante & Prosperity Mr. Adrien Mourgues said “this competition is a great achievement, such that we are able to bring in multiple players together to build meaningful partnerships and have a much larger impact and benefit to the people of Sepik and PNG at large.”

Mr. Mourgues added that “some of the cash crops such as cocoa, vanilla and others have immense potential to bring about a positive change in the lives of people, however, the full potential is not reached because of the underlying challenges, and this is where innovation, digitization and coming up with new solutions can crate a different for the people.

UNCDF Country Lead Mr. Jagdeep Dahiya ended the award ceremony by thanking all that were involved in the Bootcamp namely the BPNG SME Accelerator team, Pascoe Promotions, Creative Media PNG Ltd and the UNCDF team.

1. Jury Panel and the winners
2. Jury Panel (from left to right: Mr. Des Yaninen, Mr. Marco Arena, Sir Mahesh Patel, AG Pidik) and UNDP RC Mr. Dirk Wagener
3. One of the winners of the Agri-MSME challenge fund-PNG: Fintech Oceania (PNG) Limited