Google algorithm shows that every industry is in a position to be digitalized. The Papua New Guinea traditional handicraft industry may be viewed as one that cannot benefit from the digital transformation. For example, the traditional bilum making art is connected to the past generations. Currently, the highly skilled weavers of bilum sell their products mainly through word of mouth. However, the Asia-Pacific talented developers of software are in love with challenges.
Google partnered for the second time with Secretariat of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in May 2018. The partnership was to have 11 active developer groups for the 2018 APEC App Challenge. The partnership also brought the Asian Foundation and PNG government on board.
Google challenged the group to develop an app that would assist Papua New Guinea entrepreneurs and artisans. In more than 24 hours, the participants came up with amazing apps using high-level technology. The tech was such as virtual reality and blockchain to develop a real-world solution for the weavers of bilum in PNG.
Crystal Kawe and his father Jonathan from PNG took home the first prize for coming up with Biluminous. This is an app designed to assist artisans from rural to link with clients in PNG. The two also obtained technical and financial support to roll out their apps across the country.
Crystal who is 19 years learned about computer programming by herself. Together with her dad, they co-founded technology consulting business. This came at the time when she was 17 years old. Her father brought on the table his in-depth local knowledge and business expertise. Crystal came on board with her skills in programming. She used this together with modern technology to assist traditional artisans in improving their ventures.
Kelly Benson and Venus Izadi both from Australia took home the second prize for their platform known as Bilum Original. The platform uses matchmaking algorithm to link compatible bilum makers and buyers through SMS. Ngo Minh Quoc Hung and Nguyen Duc Hiep, the developers from Vietnam, were the winners of the third prize. They won the prize courtesy of their blockchain technology-based program. The platform approves individual products produced by local artisans.
This year’s digital tools such as app developed at APEC App Challenge bring a genuine difference for small business owners and artisans. Research carried out by Asia-Pacific MSME Trade Coalition indicates that reduce the cost of export of micro and SMEs by 82%. This is a significant reduction of cost allowing many micro-businesses and SMEs make their export for the first time.
Jonathan and Crystal are looking forward to rolling out their winning app to weavers of bilum in rural PNG over the next months. This will assist them to earn more income for their excellent work by getting to more customers. To have a glance at the 2018 APEC App Challenge as they come together, you can visit here.