Bessi’s Reflections on Samoa

It was such a privilege to be in Samoa recently and not only have the chance to meet some incredibly inspirational local entrepreneurs but also to meet young people who will be the future of the country. TDi’s reputation in the Pacific is growing and we were encouraged to have entrepreneurs seeking us out to pitch their businesses. We can’t wait to find ways to support these wonderful organisations.

Spending a few days on the island of Savaii was the highlight for me. We had the chance to spend time in farmers’ homes talking about how the work of one of our investees, Samoa Coconut Cluster, is impacting their lives. With a massive focus on providing funds for schooling for their children and contributing to their communities through tithing to the Church, people were finding that the increased income they were receiving was providing much needed relief from the strains of financial burden.

We met one extraordinary young woman who was doing remarkably well at school and had a hope of going to university to study maths and science. When we asked her how she planned to pay for university she said she would keep collecting coconuts with her family! She was an enthusiastic, driven, intelligent young woman and I have no doubt that she, and hundreds of other girls and boys like her, will do incredible things for themselves, their families and their communities over the coming years. It’s an absolute privilege to play a small part in creating positive change and transformation in these peoples’ lives.

TDi has had an intense focus in the Pacific over a number of years but it has been in the last 18 months that we have been able to actively be on the ground working with local businesses, to find the business models and methods that will allow them to take their businesses to the next level.

Our focus in the Pacific is to work on projects impacting three key areas:

  • Improvements in peoples’ livelihoods
  • Increased value add in country
  • Responsible environmental management

 

Having worked with over 100 businesses in the Pacific and now working across Vanuatu, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji we have no doubt that there are exciting things ahead in these countries and that there will be wonderful exemplar projects that emerge with many lessons for all of us on how we transition from aid reliance to sustainable and commercially viable trade.

If we can be part of helping shift to a more sustainable model that takes government and other grant based funding and uses it in a targeted and catalytic way to address the gaps in businesses; then build them up to a point where they are then able to attract private capital, to grow and strengthen their impact in the world I will be a very happy woman!

Leveraging private capital for public good has been one of my driving themes for many years now and nowhere is this getting more traction than in the work we’re doing in the Pacific. Watch this space!

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