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

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...

Business During COVID-19: In perspective

At TDi, we believe in the significance and power of small business’ and social enterprise’s contribution to life and the economy. It is this belief that drives us to support them now more than ever.

Working from Home

It’s one thing to make the choice to work from home, but it’s another to be forced to for reasons beyond your control. Even the seasoned work from homers are feeling the pinch in this time of forced isolation – I am no exception!! Oh, and throw in supervision of remote learning for your children and it’s even more challenging.

Surviving the campsite in the COVID-19 crisis

Two weeks ago, I shared with the team an analogy of a campsite. I reflected that our house has burnt down and we are struggling to reconcile the shock and the grief of all that is happening. I shared with them that I’ve been thinking that we need to set up camp, for now while we figure out how to reinvent for the new normal. We have a temporary place of residence and it’s not what we would have chosen but we can create from it. So, for the past two weeks, we have been focused on getting the campsite set up, trying to work out where stuff goes, who’s sleeping where and how to trade out of a tent.

COVID-19 Support Options Available for Your Business

We have compiled a comprehensive list of support available to Social Entrepreneurs, Not-for-Profits and SMEs in Australia.