John Taka: Expanding Economic Opportunities in his Papau New Guinea Hometown
Hi! It’s me, Spiffy the interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with the latest scoop on stellar entrepreneurs. I’m talking with someone eager to enhance economic opportunities for the residents of his hometown in Papau New Guinea. Please welcome today’s rockstar, John Taka, founder and president of Seeds of Hope PNG Inc.
Spiffy: Welcome John, what a pleasure to be here with you today! Tell me, what challenges are you addressing?
John: Thanks so much for having me, Spiffy! So, in 2013 I started a charity organization called Seeds of Hope PNG (Papua New Guinea) Inc., which addresses several main challenges. We provide a platform to provide funding support so tertiary and college students can continue their education. We provide initial capital for our youths to start and/or expand their small to medium business concepts and projects. Finally, we build roads so mothers can have their garden produce transported to the nearest main market.
Spiffy: Wow, this sounds pretty inclusive! What motivated you to tackle this?
John: I grew up in a rural village and was the first person to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business accountancy from a university here in Papau New Guinea. I wanted to help the next generation of youth and schoolchildren in the rural village explore and experience a much better world than what I've seen and experienced.
Spiffy: How are you and Seeds of Hope creating a more equitable world?
John: We have engaged both men and women in the rural village to be on our committee board and we’ve engaged young men and women to actively participate in all our projects. We give equal opportunity for everyone to reach their goals in life and contribute meaningfully back to our nation and the world.
Spiffy: What about a recent milestone? Do you have any you’re particularly proud of?
John: Yes, Spiffy, I’d love to tell you about the infrastructure projects we initiated. We conducted maintenance to 10km of an existing road that was built in 1990 but had been sorely neglected. We also built 10km of a fresh-cut road with our own hands. We have noticed that pregnant mothers and school children from the community — who used to use bush track roads — are now using these new and repaired roads for hospital and school runs. Mothers in the community use the roads to get on public transport so they can take their produce to the nearby market. We are very happy that more than 4,000 people are now using our roads.
Seeds of Hope youth working on a fresh-cut road project in the rural community. (Photo courtesy of John Taka)
Spiffy: That’s amazing, John! That’s what I call direct impact! What about failure? Have you ever come up against failure and what did you learn from it?
John: Managing people is challenging but rewarding. I have faced a lot of challenges in the rural village because some people expect me to bring basic services like roads, bridges, and water supply into the community, rather than understanding that we all can work together to achieve what we want in our community. They always believe that politicians can bring these services, not an ordinary person like myself. I don't bow down to their ideology but persist to do what I believe can help the majority of rural people. When I keep on doing what I believe, people start to realize that they don't have to wait for the politicians or government to provide these much-needed services, all they have to do to help themselves.
Spiffy: John, thanks for telling me all about your amazing work. Keep at it!
John Taka is the founder and president of Seeds of Hope PNG Inc. and a certified practicing accountant (CPA). He holds a post-graduate diploma from the University of Leeds, U.K, a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from Divine Word University, Paupau New Guinea, and a certificate in governance & risk management from the Governance Institute of Australia. In recognition of his community service, John received the 2015 Queen's Young Leaders Award at Buckingham Palace and was a One Young World Ambassador. (Nominated by One Young World)