TDi in the Pacific

So, what are TDi doing in the Pacific? Recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) implemented a new strategy in how they approach aid and development. They recognised that to achieve effective and sustainable reduction in poverty there must be a plan for sustainable economic growth.

TDi, having had experience in developing Investable Social Enterprises (ISEs) within an Australian context, were engaged by DFAT to put forward a pilot program in
 the Pacific to test how building capacity and growing ISEs could work in a development context. The challenge of bridging the gap from ‘aid to trade’ can be resolved through the development of investable enterprises that are able to attract private capital and move away from grant reliance. To achieve this, catalytic granting and the right capacity building are essential.

Our pilot initially focused on Vanuatu, Samoa and Tonga. We began our work with a Community Asset Assessment, working in local communities at a grass roots level to understand the local context from a strengths-based approach. We were working to discover under-utilised assets – both raw materials, potential products and entrepreneurs themselves.

 

“TDi is the best donor-funded private sector development initiative I have witnessed in the Pacific over the last 20 years, and it’s sustainable”

– Caleb Jarvis, Pacific Islands Trade Commissioner

 

So what have we learnt? First and foremost we found an incredibly rich environment, from the volcanic soil to the perfect weather conditions; they can grow just about anything (acknowledging, of course, the cyclones that will appear every couple of years). We’ve encountered entrepreneurs who are trying to carve out a future for themselves, their families and their communities. However, they need support, encouragement and some fundamentals built into their businesses. There are incredible opportunities available through focusing on in-country value added to locally produced oils, cocoa and coffee. We’ve also encountered the well-known challenges that exist in the Pacific such as land ownership disputes, the frequency of cyclones and natural disasters which affect agricultural opportunities. And finally, the difficulty local businesses face when trying to access finance, to allow them to grow or scale.

 

“What I like about TDi is that their approach could really redefine the way that donor agencies provide support across the Pacific Islands region”.

— Caleb Jarvis, Australian Trade Commissioner, Pacific Islands

 

In Tonga we’ve focused on the latter stages of our method, helping enterprises develop investable business models. In the coming months, we will be announcing our first investment in a local Tongan business, testing out what investment can look like in this region.

Our objective in this work is to prove that effective aid and development work needs to partner closely with economic development, to create sustainable futures and reduce grant reliance for the world’s poorest. Ultimately this is about mums and dads being able to access health and education for their children, and about families not being reliant on foreign aid, but instead having the opportunity to build their own future with dignity and respect

It takes a village to grow an inclusive sustainable business

TDi has been committed to inclusive sustainable businesses since the early days of the social enterprise movement in Australia.

Two Feet Accelerator: Where are they now? YEVU

This week we’ve been chatting with Anna Robertson from YEVU – a social enterprise clothing brand designed and manufactured in Ghana.

YuMi Tourism Partners (Alotau) – Milne Bay Organics

“Coconut has been incredibly embedded in the Milne Bay tradition – from the food consumption through to the traditional dancing.” Last year, the YuMi pilot program took us to Alotau in Papua New Guinea, where we worked with difference maker, Rhona.

Indigenous tourism is key to economic recovery

Long-time friend, and associate of TDi, Ash Bartley has just started a new role with Visit Victoria.  We caught up with her recently to celebrate her new role and ask about the opportunity for Indigenous tourism in Australia’s economic recovery.

YuMi Tourism Partners (Alotau) – VilLink Tours & Expeditions PNG

“With what I’m doing, I want to encourage the other young women out there, that they can also have the chance to make a difference.  Not only in earning money, but sharing what they know, and getting other communities involved.”

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...