We are excited to announce that our first enterprise in the Pacific has taken on investment. Coconut Cluster, based in Samoa, produce high quality virgin organic coconut oil and export it internationally and locally. Coconut oil traditionally has been used for cooking, but now is increasing in popularity as a beauty product in Western markets. TDi worked with Coconut Cluster to help them become investment ready, and ready to present to the Genesis Impact Fund, with whom they have taken on investment.

Let’s take a step back. Since July 2015, TDi has been working with DFAT to explore and identify Investable Social Enterprises (ISEs) in the Pacific. TDi has canvassed over 80 enterprises throughout Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. To read the beginnings of this story, read Anthea’s blog here.

Coconut Cluster was part of this initiative. Founded by Samoan local Edwin Tamasese, the enterprise was founded on the belief that coconut farmers should be getting more return for their hard work and that the local community should benefit from one of the largest industries in the country.

So, Coconut Cluster was formed. A cooperative group of farmers established a high volume production and manufacturing facility for their organic coconut oil. The enterprise now buys coconuts from 208 farmers at a price higher than fair trade standards.

 

“By paying above market prices we ensure that large amounts of income are flowing back into the community… Doing good business is just a smart way to do things”

– Edwin Tamasese, Founder of Coconut Cluster

 

Coconut Cluster approached TDi in March 2016 after a delay in organic certification created challenges for their cashflow. TDi assisted Coconut Cluster by reviewing their cash flow forecast and growth expectations. TDi also worked with Coconut Cluster on their business model, as well as undertaking structuring and marketing exercises to better understand their company. Coconut Cluster are also keen to further develop their business model, their marketing strategies and their impact measurement with TDi.

Edwin says that Samoa only gains as much as socially conscious businesses can contribute. Coconut Cluster’s vision is to build their enterprise to a stage where it becomes a major employer and revenue earner for Samoa.

 

“Our belief is that money is only worthwhile if it is in circulation in the community, providing education, healthcare, access to nutrition and improved infrastructure. We want this company to demonstrate that ensuring equitable wealth distribution is a key part of the way forward to better communities and the progress of humanity”

– Edwin Tamasese

TDi are thrilled by the progress Coconut Cluster has made, and we are very proud to have been able to play a part in their growth.

See Coconut Cluster’s products and the great work that they’re doing here and here.

Flexible and responsive coaching is key to sustaining women’s economic empowerment during a crisis

While each business owner faces their own set of challenges in response to the uncertainty and upheaval of COVID-19, we are observing a series of consistent coaching requirements emerge.

When life gives you lemons… pivot your business model

Nemika Brunton is based in Alotau, Papua New Guinea.  We met her during the YuMi Tourism Partners Pilot program.  The program addressed starting small, testing and learning, and how to adapt and respond to market needs.  These lessons have certainly helped Nemika shift her business focus in response to COVID-19. Tourism is a key industry for the town and many of the local businesses were tourism based.  So, the impact of COVID-19 hit the town hard.  Many locals – including Nemika – have adapted quickly to totally new businesses and customers.

Supporting Social Enterprise during COVID-19

Following a tumultuous year of bushfires, COVID-19 and recent floods in Southern NSW, lots of small businesses and the families and communities they serve, are doing it tough.  One way we’ve seen people showing their support for these local businesses is through the #shoplocal #shopvictoria and #buyfromthebush movements.  We’ve been inspired by this and wanted to share a #shopsocialenterprise guide based on some of the businesses we’ve been working with over the last 18 months.

Resilience, at what cost?

Over the past six months we as a team have navigated our own business and helped hundreds of others to do the same. We went from having a clear business model and ready to write our best year ever to having nothing as certain and many parts of our own business model under threat.

Finding motivation to continue business during COVID-19

As the current economic climate evolves with COVID-19, we have been sharing some perspective from both our own work and the continual conversations and support we’re offering others. Initially, we shared a metaphor about what this first felt like – like our house was...

Pivoting during COVID: responses from Fiji

Recently, we caught up with Deb Sadranu at Essence of Fiji to see how things are going for her, her business, and Fiji in the face of COVID-19.  Tourism is a key industry for Fiji, and Essence of Fiji usually serves the tourists. As a result of COVID-19, Deb’s whole business model has pivoted from predominantly local, in-store sales, to predominantly international, online sales.

A letter to my daughter about Black Lives Matter and racial inequality

Dear Willow,  I’m writing to you because I want to share some rumblings in my gut that have troubled me.  You are at an age now, where it is time for you to step into a conversation that for us as Australians is long overdue. I have tried to teach you about love,...

Why mindset matters to women’s entrepreneurship and why we should invest in it, especially now

At The Difference Incubator (TDi) we’ve been supporting social entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses for over a decade. In 2019 we partnered with PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre and Kate Wilson from Kamaji Tree Consulting and Coaching, with the support...

Customer Empathy Interviewing

When was the last time you asked your customers what they thought? We use Customer Empathy Interviews to help businesses deeply understand their customers and design competitive products and services. It’s also been one of our top coaching tips for business owners...

Pivoting your business model during a crisis

A conversation with Geert from FarmWallGeert Hendrix founded FarmWall in 2016. Farmwall is an agrifood-tech startup that designs urban farming technology and experiences to enhance fresh produce accessibility in the city. In our constantly developing world, the need...