Everyday People: Maurey Kemo

Maurey Kemo is from Abau, Central province. She is a pandanus mat vendor at the roadside along the Boroko Drive. Her specific market is on the opposite side of the Ela Murray International School.

She says she is self-employed. She sells food and betelnut at a roadside table market. It is her daily routine. What’s unique about Maurey is that she is providing a service to her village people back at Domara by buying their pandanus mats and then reselling to Port Moresby market.

She says the mats are abundant in the village but many of women who weave don’t have relatives in the city to accommodate them here while they sell their products, so she takes advantage of that gap but then she also provides them a market for their handicrafts. Maurey says she would buy the mats for K15-K20 and then resell at Moresby from K50 up to K100 per mat depending on the quality and design.

Maurey said she had been at this for quite a long time, having started selling when her children were younger.

“Selling mat is how we are living. My husband and I are not formally employed so this market is our livelihood,” she says.

She said there is a big demand for the mats and being in a prime location, her stocks don’t last long on the roadside market.

“It depends on the customer. Say if one customer comes, he or she buys 5, or 4 sometimes. On fortnights I sell more than 10 mats. Last week I went and spent three weeks to buy 25 plus mats but when I came back I’ve already sold 20 plus mats in two days!” She exclaimed.

For example when she returned with the mats and put them out, on the same day she sold around 7 of them at K50 each. Then another lady came and asked for 12 mats and purchased all 12.

So the duration of her products on the market just depends on the demand form customers. She sells mats with star designs at K100 or less and the plain ones are K50.  She said bulk buying of mats happens when people are preparing for wedding feasts, bride price and funerals but some just buy for their household use or for family, and even some take the as gifts overseas.

Maurey said sometimes her suppliers give her extra mats in appreciation of the service she provides to them at the village level.

The proceeds from the sales has over the years provided for the upkeep of the family, including children’s school fees and bills. She said she wouldn’t trade this for anything else as it gives her satisfaction.

In terms of investing for the future, Maurey is not depositing her profit in any financial institution but she is assisting her daughter who is married to a boy in the village boy. It is her intention that when she retires in the future, her social security is taken care of.

Frieda Kana