Moving from aid to trade

  • AFTER the successful launches of sustainable small businesses in Vanuatu and Samoa, a donor-funded private sector initiative is preparing to expand into Papua New Guinea.
    Explaining the initiative was Anna Moegerlein from Melbourne’s The Difference incubator (TDi).
    “We have a deep belief that business can be a power for good in the world and it is on that basis that we work with businesses to both do good and make money,’ Anna Moegerlein said.
    Set up in 2010, TDi has successfully run mentoring programmes for hundreds of small business owners across Australia.
    “We think there are three elements which make for a successful sustainable business. They are:
  •  Having a clear purpose that delivers a positive social and/or environmental model;
  •  Having a commercially viable business model and
  •  Developing good management and team, ‘which makes everything possible.
    “We are a capacity building organisation,” she said.
    TDi works with business owners to build out sustainable business models, and then, when applicable, matches these enterprises with potential investors.
    “Our accelerator programmes and bespoke consulting focus on helping participants build their ideal model, test it in the market, refine how they think about their impact, dig into their financials, and rethink how they organise their business,” she said. Investment fund TDi’s sister company Benefit Capital, set up an investment fund, Genesis Impact Fund, which gathers start-up capital from high-net worth individuals and other philanthropic organisations.
    Three years ago, TDi partnered with the Australian government and mentored more than 100 businesses in the Pacific. Perhaps TDi’s most successful venture has been supporting Vanuatu’s
    Tanna Coffee Company, following the devastating Cyclone Pam in 2015, which left 500 coffee farmers on the island of Tanna worse for wear.
    “TDi helped Tanna Coffee plan its recovery and growth, and mentor farmers.
    Genesis Impact Fund then provided capital to make the plans a reality.
    “Tanna Coffee is now well on the way to increasing annual coffee production from 100 tonnes to 250 tonnes, and improving the lives of 5000 residents,” Moegerlein said.
    Terry Adlington is the managing director at Tanna Coffee. He said they had trained and empowered all the farmers to become self-sufficient individuals.
    “We now pay them up to 270 vatu (A$3.20) per kg for their sun-driedcoffee parchment (up from A$0.25c), providing an enormous back-flow of money direct into the community,” he
    Mentor creative businesses TDi is also working with Carnival Cruise Lines in Vanuatu, and shortly in PNG, using its accelerator programmes to mentor creative businesses in Vanuatu’s
    ports of Santo and Port Vila.
    “The objective is to identify and grow new culturally authentic tourism experiences, that create a deeper connection to local communities,” Moegerlein said.
    “So local artists can invite cruise participants to learn about and take part in weaving, how to use coconut products, basically, activities which reflect local custom and culture.” A similar programme will begin in PNG’s port of Alotau. TDi is also partnering with PNG’s Women’s Business Resource Centre (WBRC) in Port Moresby. –

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