Rita Jaima Paru, Dial-A-Lunch Services, PNG

Rita Jaima Paru
Dial-A-Lunch Services
Finalist, SP Brewery Entrepreneur Award, Westpac Outstanding Women Awards (2014)
Port Moresby

Rita Jaima Paru owns and runs Dial-A-Lunch Services – a Port Moresby-based operation that supplies convenient, affordable and nutritious catering services for Papua New Guinean businesses, government organisations and the general public.

Rita was a Finalist for the SP Brewery Entrepreneur Award in the 2014 Westpac Outstanding Women (WOW) Awards, and in 2016 was awarded as a Global Women in Management leadership training programme recipient by Exxon Mobil and Plan USA.

An inspiring businesswoman and community leader, Rita has gone out of her way to help young girls and women in local churches to learn basic cooking, baking, food handling and safety skills. This initiative has helped women earn an income by selling food at schools, markets, local businesses and Government departments.

Describe your business.
My business is a 100% locally owned catering business operating in Port Moresby.

Who are your customers?
I have a wide range of clients ranging from government departments to corporate and business houses, and the general public. My clients have included World Vision (PNG), Coca Cola Amatil (POM), the United Nations Development programme (UNDP), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and PNG’s Department of Community Development.

What inspired you start your own business?
While managing couple of big catering companies I saw the revenue my team and I were generating for them (foreign businesses) and I told myself enough of making the big bucks for them I can do this for myself. This is my country and I have the knowledge and skills to tap into this industry, so with the belief, motivation and the network I created while employed I took up the challenge and ventured into business.

What were the key challenges you faced along the way?
One of the biggest challenges was in 2014 when I was nominated for the SP Brewery Entrepreneur Award category. I was few months into business and up against successful, well-established business owners. I was really challenged not to look down on myself but believe in what I did and what I wanted to achieve.

What have been the key moments that have contributed to your success?
The best opportunity so far was being awarded a month-long Global Women in Management and Leadership training programme by Exxon Mobil and Plan USA. This training in in Jakarta, Indonesia has equipped me with more leadership and business skills to grow my business and at the same time empower other women and girls in my community build their own small businesses.

From starting my catering business in September 2014, I was able to use the money (equity) to obtain a loan to purchase a delivery van six months afterwards. Then I used the profits to renovate my two-bedroom unit, which I’m now renting out.

What would you do differently?
I have decided to train younger people so they are able to find employment in other hospitality industries. During the 2nd Term School holiday, I was asked by Laloki Secondary School to have their Grade 12 business studies train with Dial-A-Lunch Services for two weeks. Currently, I have a Kimbe TAFE student doing a month’s training before she graduates at the end of August. I am hoping to build a bigger kitchen for more training. I have also gone a step further to help open up bank accounts for these students and teach them how to save. We must learn to develop this savings culture.

Were there any key people or organisations that provided you with assistance?
Firstly, my late mum who built a home where I could settle and initially operate out from. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have had a place to start off from. My husband Mr Bernard Paru and my children, and finally Mr & Mrs Agarobe who were moved by my testimony at the 2014 WOW Awards and offered me their kitchen at the Helifix Hanger at 7 Mile, which I turned it into a Kiosk and now operate a shop and do all my catering from. World Vision (PNG) and Coca Cola Amatil (POM) also gave me catering contracts, which enabled the business to buy assets.

What advise do you give to women wanting to set up a business in the Pacific?
I believe in starting from scratch. Start small and grow the business. Make sure you know what you want to do. Have some skills and knowledge in what you want to venture into. You will appreciate the work you put into growing it. It’s a nice feeling to realize that your business is growing because you actually are growing with it.

What advise do you give to women about running a business?
Networking with other female entrepreneurs is important because you share ideas and recommend each other in your business circles. An important part of growing your business is keeping up-to-date with changing ICT technology because the world of technology is constantly changing.

I believe we must set goals and timing is very important. I have been successful in achieving my goals so far because I set a time limit. They must be clear. In your business you will find out that time is a very expensive commodity – time is money!

Finally, I give Glory to my God because He is the source of my strength to continue.

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