The company is the brainchild of Tim Ashton, an Australian farmer, developer and human rights activist – which I agree with you is an unusual combination.
It’s also run by an impressive board of directors, which includes chairman Simon Pentanu (former chief ombudsman of PNG and chief administrator of Bougainville), Stan Basiou (chairman of Kalang Advertising and adviser to the Bougainville government), Albert Kinani (managing director of South Bougainville Engineering) and Lawrence Mattau (director of Bougainville Veterans Holdings).
The general manager is Peter Tareasi, former group accountant of John Lysaght PNG Limited group of companies and current government and landowners liaison manager. with the Bougainville Islands Group.
Peles Rice is a commercial company (that is, it seeks to make a profit) with a strong social motive – to establish in Bougainville an industry that will make available a staple product at a highly competitive price.
The PNG rice market is currently controlled by Trukai Industries, an expatriate owned monopoly with over 95% of the market. By the time this rice reaches Bougainville, it is very expensive.
Peles Rice will be able to cut costs by acting as its own wholesaler selling direct to stores, cutting out the middleman so to speak.
It’s a great idea for a region of PNG that’s been doing things tough. But, as diligent readers will recall, there is a major problem.
While Peles gas secured some solid investment to date, it still requires another K550,000 ($250,000) to actually get going.
So the company is looking for additional investors or loans.
PNG financial institutions have clammed up on lending to Bougainville, and Peles Rice is a victim of this.
Perhaps there’s a feeling there’s too much risk involved, but, as Tim Ashton says, Bougainville is open for business and the north is probably one of the most peaceful regions of PNG.
Initially, Peles Rice will service the northern centre of Buka as far south as Wakunai from a proposed factory and distribution centre in Buka.
Production and distribution from places further south such as Arawa and Buin will not take place until the directors are comfortable with the security situation, especially in relation to the large amounts of cash that the business can generate.
For further information on this project, contact Tim Ashton at firstname.lastname@example.org.