Moale Leah Vagikapi Founder & Co-Director, IM Associates Limited, PNG

Moale Leah Vagikapi
Founder & Co-Director, IM Associates Limited
Location: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Year founded: 2004

Papua New Guinean entrepreneur, Moale Vagikapi, is the founder and Co-director of IM Associates – a property development and management business that has expanded into other areas of consultancy including mobile medical services. Moale has been awarded by the PNG Royal Police Constabulary for her contribution to the Human Resource Development of PNG Royal Police Constabulary Force, and by the AusAID (Australian International Development Agency) in recognition of her long service to the organisation.  

Describe your business and who your customers are.
My company, IM Associates Ltd has been in property development and management since 2004. Recently we expanded our activities to include consultancies in development management, mobile medical services and other interests.  Our clients are senior corporate and government professionals.

What inspired you start your own business?
I come from a family business background and naturally have always wanted to operate my own business at some point. My interest has always been in property investment. I read a lot about successful businesses and types of businesses to invest in. This gave me ideas on how to progress and, with advise from my bankers, I took the first challenge. The goal was buying cheap, renovating and letting/renting out quality and affordable accommodation to professional clients. Based on the principle of value-for-money we could not go wrong. Since then the business in this sector has expanded with a chain of properties in acquired in strategic locations. Recently the business has expanded to include other interests such as horticulture, and consultancy in our own professional fields.

What were the biggest challenges you faced?
The biggest challenge in the property investments was making sure to engage certified artisans who could do good quality work and be compliant with required regulations such as building to required standards, (electrical, plumbing etc.) and the need to engaged registered licensed artisans.

Were there any key people or organisations who provided you with assistance?
I had good advice from my bank and experienced professionals in the building industry.

And without the support of my spouse, Dr. Inoni Betuela, and our sons, whose encouraging words of, ‘Why not, go for it”, I would not be to be where I am today.

What advise do you give to women wanting to set up a business in the Pacific?
Follow the due process of registering your business properly with the appropriate authorities, seek professional financial and business advice and stay focused on the type of business you wish to do.

If you have a passion, convert it to a business and in that way you will enjoy your business because it’s your passion. You will get more satisfaction in that way. I know of a young mother who had always wanted run a hair saloon. With an administration background, she decided to take up training in hair cutting and hair care. Today she runs a successful hair dressing saloon which she humbly started from her own home. After 18 months through word-of-mouth by friends and clients her business started to grow. She has since moved out from her home to a small office space, which now holds three chairs, a rinsing/washing bar. She’s so delighted to be doing a business, which is her passion.

Likewise, for me it’s the same principle. My passion is properties and that’s where I started.

What advice do you give to women about running a business?
It pays to start with having a Business Plan. It helps keep you focused and think strategically about where your heading with your business.

Are there any books, magazines or other resources you recommend?

Business Review Magazines are always useful. These are books from my library although I have a few in property investment: Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Driving Small Business, How to Make it, How to Keep it. Des Knight and Noel Whittaker, and Robert Kiyosaki, The Real Book of Real Estate.

There’s also lots of business topics on YouTube and Pinterest. I have personally found these web sites very useful for small business tips, experiences, and even business ideas. etc.

Final words …
I believe as a woman of the Pacific, “my success can be another women’s success”. Therefore, the essence of empowering women is fundamental to recognising that women can and should be key partners to community change and nation building. I believe as an educated elite and as a successful entrepreneur, it is my obligation to share my blessings, knowledge and experience with other women colleagues so they too can realise their dreams and together we can create change and improve lives.