A Global Innovation & Business Enterprise






Ross Hynes, Vice Chancellor, University of Papua New Guinea

The Pacific Islands

Port Moresby: Ronald Langston, principal, Langston Global Enterprises, and former national director of the U.S. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), spoke at the University of Papua New Guinea regarding global strategies for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) May 11. Langston’s visit to Papua New Guinea was arranged by the U.S. Embassy.

Langston’s message was loud and clear. “We need you,” he stressed. “Businesses in the U.S., particularly those that are minority owned need to form partnerships and create linkages with companies in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

In Langston’s view, Pacific Islanders are part of the African Diaspora. “I see the faces of my family in Papua New Guinea,” he said.

Like Blacks in America, Papua New Guineans, he explained have suffered from a lack of effective leadership. “It is time to unshackle ourselves from the atmosphere of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalization,” said Langston.

Langston is on a journey to promote and advocate for establishing a bond of mutual interest in fostering the business case for a global strategic growth alliance for small and medium enterprises in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands with minority business enterprises in the United States.

Lessons Learned

The first thing that Langston noticed while serving as national director of the MBDA was the absence of U.S. minority enterprises engaged in the global economy. “These businesses, working in partnership with global SMEs have the potential to establish collaborative advantage premised not on financial capital but in the value of social capital. In the long view, human capital will reward investment with unforeseen opportunities,” said Langston.

He also pointed to the need for a global strategic alliance across borders among what the African Diaspora.

“Unfortunately, the current model for investment in emerging markets is formulated within the narrow realm of financials,” he said. “Investors are preoccupied with the economics of the deal, while neglecting the political, cultural, organizational and human aspects of the partnership.”

According to Langston, microbusinesses, usually run by women, dominate advancing emerging markets. “It is critical,” he said to grow them into SMEs and from there to advance to size, scale and capacity to employ and competitively engage the global economy.”

Globally, SME owners must see themselves as a team with the urgent need to achieve scale in the local marketplace before expanding regionally, nationally and globally. “We still do not see ourselves as owners or prime contractors,” he said. “We are not sufficiently prepared to compete and, therefore, we have been forced to accept subordinate status. We do not see the potential or imagine that we can be global entrepreneurs. This keeps us in a perpetual status of underlings.”


Shifting the economies of nations in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific Islands will require a major effort. “What is needed is access to capital, education and technology,” said Langston. “Obviously, money and investment are key to setting up a business, but beyond that companies need managerial skill. You need the right people in the right seats on the right bus heading the right direction,” he emphasized. “You also need someone who has the courage to kick the wrong people off.”

Langston was scathing in his criticism of poor leadership and of talk shops that do not lead to results. “We must change. We must find good leadership. We must pursue excellence and that means results not activity. We need execution, execution, execution.”

What does success look like? Langston pointed to Asians, particularly the Chinese. “In the U.S.,” said Langston, “Asians make up only 3 percent of the population, but their businesses account for two-thirds of all minority business revenue. Yes, I am jealous of those highly successful networks.” He stressed, however, that he was not preaching resentment but resemblance. “Let’s learn from their example,” he urged.

Langston closed his remarks on an optimistic note. “The sun, the moon and stars are all aligned,” he said. “It is time for people in Papua New Guinea to rise to the challenge. Let them trust their fellow citizens. Let them empower their women. Let them believe that they can accomplish great things.”

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