New Business in Pohnpei

Hi, All! As I'm quite interested in moving to Pohnpei with my precious fiance, and it seems that jobs are a bit scare, I thought I'd go a different direction.

Think about all of the businesses that are already there. Now, what's missing? What kind of business would you like to see that isn't available? If a person was going to start a new business in Pohnpei or the FSM, what would you recommend?

Thanks for your time!


  • 1. Reasonable retailers of just about anything. Just 1 hour away on United, you will find in Chuuk frozen meats that are crazy cheaper than Pohnpei. Ebay and Amazon are picking up the slack but FSM Mail (U.S. domestic mail rates sort of apply here) is not pulling its weight.
    2. Organized "oldest profession in the world" is missing. Currently supplemented by mom's and pop's
    3. Tire balancing
    4. Vegetable growing to compete with the import and spotty locals
  • Proper , consistent locally grown vegetables instead of the imported crap, and slim pickings grown locally
  • We need strip clubs, massage parlors, gambling dens, and a golf course on Pohnpei.

  • I'm not sure what you'd have to do to get a business license here, but if you're really interested in providing a service, I'm not sure that a retail store is the way to go. Family-owned container stores are ubiquitous around Pohnpei, and Kolonia has plenty of options. The prices are potentially higher than Chuuk's, but they're not really that outrageous, at least for food and such. (Electronics, on other hand, are prohibitively expensive.)

    But y'know what FSM is really missing? Nearly any kind of export industry. Biggest thing around is fish, and you know as well as I do that raw product simply doesn't carry the same pricetag as refined product (like how Saudi Arabia exports a ton of oil but Texas exports a ton of gasoline).

    Pohnpei doesn't really have the infrastructure for high-tech work, but arguably it has lots of potential for refined products assuming you could get past the issue of land ownership--which itself requires a whole other conversation. PF Kluge's book, Edge of Paradise, discusses this among other topics.

    Have you read anything about Micronesia? Making Sense of Micronesia by Father Francis Hezel may be a good start.
  • Thanks for all the response. It seems surprising to me that reasonably priced local food isn't as available as I would have thought and likewise, I wouldn't have thought that the world's oldest profession would really need much organizing! Lol. I have noticed in doing a lot of comparisons for cost of living from country to country on smaller islands and countries that milk is always astronomically high... I suppose those cows take up a lot of space.

    And Richard, thanks for the suggestion on the book. I'll definitely read that one. Raw materials are difficult, especially in a smaller area like FSM. (I have the same problem even here in the US. There is only a limited amount of RM's in this world.) Finding something that can be either manufactured or grown there seems to be the key, but finding something that "fits" or makes sense is the challenge. I'd love to find something that helps the economy while still not changing the country too much.

    When we finally have a chance to come there, we want to help, not merely exist on the island. Please, keep offering suggestions. I like the idea of growing food and vegetables for sure.
  • Along with the vegetable suggestion, what vegetables are most commonly used in Pohnpei?
  • Darrinos, you sound serious so here are my advice. Come to Pohnpei first; first a job either with the government or from any of the existing businesses; so you have some income to live on while you're trying to assess the business environment.

    Small businesses have small profit margins here; so not enough to give you a good income. Exports are difficult because of shipping issues. Even the vegetables farming is tricky. Sometimes, farmers of such local crop as cucumber and Chinese cabbage bring so much to the market; and there are not enough buyers; so they lose money; and will not do farming anymore; until the next vegetable shortage. So don't look at vegetables only. There are many local farmers who you'll have to compete with. And there are lot of imported vegetables, such as cabbage, carrots, etc., because they cannot be grown in the islands.

    In short, come to the island with low expectation. You might find you niche. And if not, be prepared to pack up and go to Guam, Saipan or other places where businesses are more active; and the number of consumers are several times bigger. Just some thoughts.
  • Some are already available on Main Street Kolonia or nearby roads.
  • Darrinos, if you have some news-writing experience or running a local newspaper, I think Pohnpei is in need of another newspaper. There is a large population of English-reading population; and there are a lot of activities and newsworthy items everyday every day--from the villages/municipalities to the capitol. Education, economic development, fishing, sports, local news, international organizations in Kolonia, etc., etc.

    There is a already one news paper but I believe people will spend another $1 to buy another paper that focuses on local news. I would invest if you need a partner. I am sure the local newspaper editor would also be willing to contribute to it. Just some thoughts.
  • Darrinos, another business opportunity that has not been undertaken is the making of commercial pig feed using locally available materials. It is my understanding that COM-FSM land grant has been collecting and identifying all cassava (tapioca) that are grown in Pohnpei--many were introduced from Fiji and other places.

    Since tapioca can grow in abundance in Pohnpei, it can be used as carbohydrate base for pig feed processing. It just need a business model to put this together. You can also include the copra cake that are being processed and marketed by the Petro Corp.

    And what would be best is to include the processing of by-products and other left over of fishes from the fishing boats--to make fish meal in Pohnpei.

    As you may already know, Pohnpeians are crazy about their pigs--the men with titles and everybody want to raise pigs. At the present time, the pig feed that used to sell in Pohnpei for $15 per bag are now selling for about $25 or more; and they are still being purchased. I heard that Pohnpei State is importing between $2 million and $3 million commercial pig feed per year. I'll invest if you were to start the business. Just some thoughts on this nice day.
  • Darrinos, here is a list of business opportunities and my opinion/comments on them:
    1. Grocery store - too many players; too much competition;
    2. Taxi - too many taxi operations already; good but too much competition;
    3. Movie theaters - few customers; maybe all watching videos on computers/tablets;
    4. Farming - good but tricky; many potential famers; few product diversity; more expensive than some imports;
    5. Fishing - good for locals; so not encouraging an outsider to got into it;
    6. Bar - many bars, including sports bar, are already operational on island;
    7. Office supplies - not doing well;
    8. Restaurants- some doing well; others not.
    9. Hotel- a couple of nice hotels; some big; some small; a lot of room vacancies;
    10. Sakau - $5 per bottle are popular; many ice chests full of chilled sakau are usually gone by 8 or 9 pm;
    11. Powder sakau - there is a potential for this since Pohnpei is know for sakau; if you bring know-how to process; it can be sent oversees--similar to what Fiji and others are doing. Kosrae businessman has been processing ground sakau. I think it can make money.
    12. Computer service- a couple of operations; probably enough; crowded already;
    13. Construction- funding for construction from Compact funds has been reduced to trickle; probably can do small construction with funding from USDA rural funds/loans but small projects only.

    This is getting too long so I'll stop here. Some business opportunities have been mentioned already by other posters. More to come.
  • Darrinos,

    See my post titled "New Listing"
  • "scarce" is the right spelling m
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