TDi celebrates UN World Day of Social Justice with demonstrations of hope for a more just and inclusive economy.

20 February 2020

Today the UN is calling for “closing the inequalities gap to achieve social justice”. We want to share the ways in which TDi and our partners are helping to address inequalities through the power of business and cross-sector innovation.

Inequality is rising and our current economy is frankly unsustainable. Inequality affects us all – it threatens peace, deepens poverty and contributes to our climate crisis.

It is time to reduce inequalities globally.

As the United Nations and the International Labour Organization Office state:

“One in 5 workers still live in moderate or extreme poverty, geographical disparities impede access to decent work, many workers face stagnant wages, gender inequality prevails and people are not benefitting equally from economic growth. Inequalities between and among countries are weakening social cohesion, preventing people from achieving their full potential and burdening economies. It is time to reduce inequalities globally.”

We deeply believe in the power of business to deliver social justice.

TDi is about bringing together two worlds that have been firmly wedged apart, the world of business & the world of delivering social good. We play a convening role in the middle of these two worlds to dream and design a new reality and models that address inequality, exclusion & sustainability.

Bringing governments, business and communities together to find new ways of doing business creates opportunities for trade, investment & capital flows and ultimately contributes to securing peace and a shared prosperity.

So… how exactly do we advance Social Justice through business?

One of the ways TDi advances social justice is by supporting business entrepreneurship amongst indigenous people to overcome the exclusion from trade markets they often experience. Our cross sector work in social innovation and a market based approach to poverty alleviation seeks to achieve full participation in the global economy and promotes an inclusive economy in Australia and the Pacific.

Some of the specific ways we do this is by:

Helping good businesses to grow so they can provide greater social impact

Guria Port Moresby
Guria Growth Accelerator run with WBRC in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

We are currently working with the Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to run a growth accelerator program called Guria for twelve selected businesses. As a result of the program, each entrepreneur aims to double their revenue and double their profit, without doubling their workload. The intent is to shift ownership of the program to WBRC over the next few years so that they can to assist all of their members, creating a broader impact across Papua New Guinea.

TDi also partners with Indigenous Business Australia to run accelerator programs tailored to Australian Indigenous Entrepreneurs. Together we are deeply invested in the financial success and economic independence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. When we help a business to achieve sustainable growth it creates employment opportunities, strengthens communities and the local economy.

IBA Accelerator for Indigenous Entrepreneurs
IBA Accelerator for Indigenous Entrepreneurs

Designing more inclusive and sustainable supply chains


YuMi project
YuMi Tourism Project

YuMi Tourism Partners is a cross-sector partnership between Carnival Australia, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and The Difference Incubator. It is aimed at driving local business, jobs and economic growth in Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea through a shared value approach with the private sector. It is a powerful example of how we can achieve social justice in a more holistic way and through true collaboration between business, government and community.

It has already delivered an additional AUD$1.5m income per annum into communities in the South Pacific through new tourism contracts, whilst improving Carnival Australia’s onshore experience.

We live and operate in an era that requires great acts of bravery, creativity and fresh approaches to entrenched social problems.

World Economic Forum Davos 2020 reported as the new decade

"opens with a fragile growth outlook, social tensions over the evident polarization of economic outcomes and high levels of uncertainty...there are signs of policy agility and business reform that may lead to a different, better kind of economic growth"

Now is the time for governments and businesses to embrace innovative new approaches that push the boundaries, leverage resources and advance a more just and inclusive world economy.

Every initiative starts with a difference maker who believes that there is a better way. We deeply value the courage and vision of these people and the alliances and partnerships that have helped to advance social justice in our work. We are convinced more than ever that development without economic development will only continue to lock people in poverty and not see the future we all dream of realised.

Curious about how we could work together?

We’re always up for a coffee and a chat to explore the possibilities. Get in touch.

Laikim Sisters PNG reflection

PNG-Aus Partnership program connects a different kind of entrepreneurial network

“I’m very, very passionate about Indigenous female entrepreneurship, so, when I heard that this was going to be a cultural exchange that was purely women, that was really, really exciting.”

Kylie Lee Bradford is one of 18 female entrepreneurs in a pilot program, Laikim Sister.

The program is an initiative of the Australian Government under the #PNGAusPartnership to connect Indigenous Australian and PNG women entrepreneurs across three industries: traditional foods, cultural tourism and creative arts.

The program is uniquely designed to deepen the trade connections between the PNG and Indigenous Australia at a grassroots level, and to spark innovation in the represented industries by sharing the experiences and stories of gender, culture, and business of the women.

“The key learning [from the program], for me, has been resilience.  Especially when Betty told her story.  She spoke about overcoming hardship in her life and business life and community.  [She’s] come from such a tough background, but she’s motored on, and shown great strength and resilience and to this day she’s still such a leader in community and her family.  It was emotional to hear her story, and her power and strength was felt in abundance,” said Ms Bradford, of her fellow participant.

Ms Bradford grew up in a small Aboriginal community called Patonga in the heart of Kakadu National Park, Australia. She founded Kakadu Tiny Tots and now runs Kakadu Tucker which sells wild-harvested, native Australian bushfoods, teas and skin care.

“Losing my mum recently, has put a massive strain on my capabilities and strengths.  So being able to connect with a lot of PNG women who have gone through so much hardship has really inspired me to continue my journey and continue my mum’s legacy and live her strength and her light,” she said.

The program – which resumes in February 2020, in Cairns Australia – provides immersive cultural and business experiences and discussions, allowing the women to share knowledge and insight across their cultures, and spark ideas and innovation across the industries they work in.

“Being able to learn from the PNG women is incredible.  Their culture, their protocols, the way they do things – it’s so great to learn from. I think we’ve all got so much value to give and I feel like this community and this movement has to continue. What’s been created here is an amazing opportunity that should continue over a very long time.  There’s nothing like it, and there’s so much we can learn from each other,” said Ms Bradford.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Laikim Sister program or the businesses involved, please email

Laikim Sisters PNG

Long-standing cultural connections forge new trade links between Australia and PNG

For Carol Vale, co-founder of Game Enough? – an Indigenous Australian bush foods and game meat company based in Brisbane, Australia – the Laikim Sister pilot program has deepened her connections with Papua New Guinea (PNG) both professionally and personally.

Game Enough? creates foods and beverages that adopt the flavours of the Australian bush.

The company has long imported crocodile from PNG, however, the Laikim Sister program has opened opportunities for Vale to export to Australia’s closest neighbour.

“We’re looking to export our products particularly Kangaroo and Emu to international markets, and this program has given me the opportunities and the connections to export to PNG which I hadn’t considered previously,” said Vale.

Laikim Sister is an Australian Government supported pilot program under the PNG-Australia Partnership that connects Indigenous Australian and PNG women entrepreneurs. TDi is privileged to be the implementation partner for this great program.

The program highlights that there are deeply embedded and long-standing connections between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and when highlighted, they create opportunity for business and industry growth.

“My first week [in the program was] absolutely amazing on so many levels. For me, [I got to experience] a 75-year-old story in my family that is very much a part of my father’s bloodline – our family’s service men and women’s cultural identity came alive for me here in PNG,” said Vale.

Vale's my great uncle’s grave site, Owen Stanley Ranges, PNG

Vale’s great uncle, Private Frank Richard Archibald, fought in the Second World War, and was killed on the Owen Stanley ranges of PNG. Before he died, he wrote home to  his mother (Vale’s great grandmother) and asked that if his sister Hazel (Vale’s grandmother) had a son, to name him Richard, after him.

Vale’s grandmother did have a son (Vale’s father) and named him Richard Owen Stanley.

“To go out and visit my great uncle’s grave site, to sit there and talk to him with my father and grandmother’s photos in front of me and remember the amazing story that comes from that is just something that I will be forever grateful for,” Vale said.

Through the Laikim Sisters program, Vale met Nellie Varmari, who runs a coffee wholesale business, Central Mamina Fresh Coffee.

Varmari sells coffee throughout PNG, which she sources from the Owen Stanley ranges. Varmari, who has worked in the coffee industry for many years, built Central Mamina Fresh Coffee 18 months ago.

“I was working for PNG coffee, and then superior coffee, and I thought to myself – I could do this, coffee grows in my region,” Varmari said.

Nellie's coffee business Central Mamina Fresh Coffee
Nellie started her coffee business Central Mamina Fresh Coffee 18 months ago.

“When I started, I didn’t have any money… I had to borrow money from my children, for my first 20kg. I would test it to see if it worked.  I went around to all the businesses in Port Moresby by foot to sell my coffee. I was working so hard – in the morning I would put on my Superior Coffee uniform and work, and in the afternoon, I would put on my Central Mamina uniform and work again. Eventually, my boss at Superior Coffee said to me ‘you are passionate, you must pursue your business’,” Varmari said.

Ms Vale, who had been searching for a coffee line for her business for some time, was moved by Nellie’s story of hard work, and the fact that she sourced coffee from the same place as her great uncle served in the war.

“When Nellie told me she doesn’t have a car and catches a bus to meet people and sell her coffee, her story of determination resonated with me. I’ve decided I want to import coffee from Nellie, from the Owen Stanley ranges because of the story and the connection of that place, which is about our place. And to hear from the Papua New Guinean sisters about the significance of the Owen Stanley ranges, just made this week even more special. They spoke about how it’s such an important part of their cultural identity and I thought – what a nice thread,” Ms Vale said.

A part of Vale’s long-term goal for Game Enough? is to have a coffee line as part of their offerings. She will source Varmari’s coffee which will underpin Game Enough’s new coffee line Callie’s Coffee. Incidentally, Callie is the nickname that Carol’s grandmother gave to her and thus the connection between two Laikim Sisters.

The Laikim Sister cohort will meet in Cairns, Australia for part two of the program in February 2020.

The focus will be on formalising trade and collaboration connections that the women have begun to form through the program. For Ms Varmari, she sees this as an opportunity into the Australian market.

“I am working hard to source enough coffee to take with me to Cairns.  I want to make Carol happy but also, we will have a market as part of the program and I hope to sell some there,” Varmari said.

If you are interested in knowing more about the Laikim Sister program or the businesses involved, please email

Celebrating the 2019 difference makers as we enter a new decade

At TDi 2019 was another amazing year. Again, we’ve had the privilege of helping Difference Makers from Fiji, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Australia.  We’ve helped entrepreneurs build out their ideas and business models. We’ve worked with NFPs to explore new revenue streams and forge new pathways of doing business. We’ve had interesting and important conversations with our corporate and government partners.

It’s interesting because most people assume our work is about numbers and spreadsheets, marketing plans and slogans. But our work goes much deeper than that – it’s the human stories of struggle and triumph, of resilience and adapting that make our work what it is.  All our team would say that our work moves and changes us, and we are inspired by the grit, determination and sacrifice of the amazing people we get to work with.

On a personal note, our TDi team has grown, we've had babies born, and we’ve also been working behind the scenes on some special, fun stuff that will help us better tell our own story. Watch this space early next year you’ll see a new chapter in TDi’s life released!

Our favourite projects of 2019

At a time of year that invites reflection, our team looks back on the projects that have been meaningful, heart-warming, fun, adventurous, challenging, exciting and special...


It’s just got to be “Accelerate with IBA” for me!  Together with Indigenous Business Australia we run an accelerator for Indigenous Social Entrepreneurs. I love the passion and commitment these entrepreneurs bring to their enterprises and their resilience and hope. It is such a joy to be part of a room of people who care about and make time for genuine relationships. We laugh together and cry together and long after the formal journey has finished, we still cheer each other on. Through this work I see a shared future for Australia that I can be proud of.


My favourites have been the Guria Accelerator – an outstanding group of brave businesswomen (PNG-Australia Partnership and Women's Business Resource Centre in PNG); the Laikim Sister program, for opening my eyes and heart to a sisterhood I never knew I could call my own (PNG-Australia Partnership); and finally, our work with the team at Essence of Fiji who create belonging and opportunity for so many women in Fiji.


This year I have been blessed to meet and work with some amazing entrepreneurs in PNG as we launched the Alotau and Rabaul ports for the YuMi Tourism Partners program - a partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (including PNG-Australia Partnership) and Carnival Australia. We are there to help them, but I can honestly say that I have learnt so much from them and am all the richer for that experience. I feel that PNG has become a second home to me, and I love sharing this with people who perhaps aren’t quite as informed on the beauty that PNG has.


My favourite project this year is the Guria Accelerator (through PNG-Australia Partnership and Women's Business Resource Centre in PNG) – twelve incredible entrepreneurs in Port Moresby.  Guria means "Earthquake" or "Shake-Up", and it's living up to its name. These business owners are working together to double their sales and double their revenues, without doubling their workloads.  The energy and spirit of the cohort is remarkable, we will have a lot of great stories to share at our Showcase in March in Port Moresby.


My favourite project this year was Laikim Sister which has been supported by the Australian Government under PNG-Australia Partnership. Laikim is an exchange between Papua New Guinean businesswomen and Indigenous Australian businesswomen. This project brings together so many of the big themes in my life into one place – themes of female entrepreneurship, themes of overcoming, themes of exclusion and social justice. It was a humbling experience and privilege to have been able to facilitate this program. The stories of these women which have begun to be told publicly have etched a place in my spirit. It has and will continue to change me.


My favourite project this year was our work in Goroka in partnership with the Australian Government under PNG-Australia Partnership and Pacific Trade Invest, understanding the bilum supply chain. It combines two of my greatest loves: strategy and storytelling. We got the rare opportunity to understand the mechanics of a growing export industry working with key players all along the supply chain to shape its growth. Bilum has many stories to tell: that of the art form, of the weavers, of its history and place in PNG’s culture and I enjoyed learning about them.


I’ve had the privilege of working with the Porgera District Women’s Association to help build out a sustainable social enterprise model.  For me personally, Porgera is one of the most challenging environments I have worked in and at the same time one of the most welcoming and rewarding. The women we worked with are strong, inspiring, and warm-hearted. I feel privileged to have been invited into this world and look forward to a lasting relationship with our new “family”.


My favourite TDi project this year has been Yumi Tourism Partners in Rabaul, PNG, in partnership with the PNG-Australia Partnership and Carnival Australia.  As somebody who usually works 'behind the scenes' I loved getting out on the front line and seeing TDi in action.  It was a fabulous experience, seeing the amazing towns and people of Rabaul and Kokopo and getting a glimpse in to their fascinating history, who they are and what they have to share with the rest of the world.  We spent time talking with tour operators, local businesses and politicians and I could see how TDi is really helping be a conduit to connect them to opportunities that they have hungered for for years, but not known where to start or how to go about it.

YuMi Wins Shared Value Award 2018

TDi in the Pacific: Q&A with our Head of Pacific Programs Anna

Q: You currently work at TDi, can you please tell me more about what TDi does and why you get out of bed and go to work every day?

Q: Working at TDi I’m sure takes you on some interesting adventures in the Pacific. Are you able to share with us some of the projects you have been working on in the Pacific Islands region?

Q: The ‘hallmark’ of impact investing is the ‘social impact’. Can you please explain to us how TDi measures ‘social impact’?

Q: After an organisation has undertaken its ‘social impact’ assessment, are there on-going monitoring and reporting requirements?

Q: Do you have any tips you are able to offer Pacific businesses about how to get ‘impact investment ready’?

Q: It would be remiss of me to not ask you this as part of our Pacific Personalities interview segment – what is your favourite restaurant in the Pacific?