Enhancing the ecosystem for entrepreneurship within the Pacific

Liliana is a younger mom and small enterprise proprietor in an island group. With a digitally linked and responsive enterprise financing and help ecosystem, she will be able to join with suppliers, market her merchandise to a worldwide viewers, entry coaching and help, interact with function fashions, and handle her funds from the palm of her hand or the comfort and security of her own residence.

That is the envisaged consequence of a brand new regional initiative on ‘Enhancing the ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation within the Pacific’ that’s being undertaken by the Griffith Asia Institute (GAI), the Basis for Improvement Cooperation (FDC), the Asian Improvement Financial institution Institute (ADBI), and ACCESS Advisory, Inc.

Three Pacific island international locations are taking part on this undertaking—Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Samoa, and Solomon Islands—representing the three Pacific sub-regions of Micronesia, Polynesia, and Melanesia, respectively.

This regional enterprise can be carried out in two phases. Section 1 will concentrate on stakeholder engagement and gathering data straight from small-scale entrepreneurs and different key stakeholders. These insights, together with their wants and entrepreneurial mindsets, will present the premise for the event of focused interventions to be designed and piloted in Section 2.

Small-Scale Enterprises as Drivers for Financial Restoration

Micro and small enterprises, each formal and casual, play an important function in all Pacific island economies. They account for a big share of financial exercise, employment, and innovation within the area. Participation in micro and small enterprises might help to distribute wealth extra evenly by offering jobs and revenue to folks in rural and distant areas. These enterprises present simpler entry for ladies and younger folks to turn into self-employed enterprise house owners and may play an important function in preserving conventional cultures and livelihoods.

In Samoa, almost 97 per cent of all registered enterprises are micro and small companies and so they account for 75 per cent of personal sector employment. It’s estimated that 24 per cent of nationwide manufacturing within the Federated States of Micronesia might be attributed to casual and semi-subsistence actions. In 2021, it’s estimated that 63.8 per cent of the labour drive within the Solomon Islands are self-employed with 38 per cent engaged in agricultural manufacturing and 51 per cent in companies.

Nonetheless, the potential of those micro and small enterprises to boost lives is hampered by a bunch of disadvantages, together with regulatory hurdles, restricted entry to markets and finance, and weak institutional help. The challenges skilled by these enterprises are additional exacerbated by the distinctive native situations, reminiscent of distant geographies, underdeveloped public infrastructure and low inhabitants densities, making it tough for these companies to flourish.

Micro and small companies have been particularly hit laborious through the COVID-19 pandemic which introduced with it a extreme financial downturn that disproportionately impacted the Pacific islands. Through the peak of the an infection and lock downs, between 2019 to 2021, Pacific economies skilled a mean shrinkage of 5.4 per cent. The Central Financial institution of Solomon Islands reported a 3.6 per cent contraction of the home economic system in 2022 whereas contributors to the Solomon Islands Nationwide Provident Fund lowered by 5,300 from 2020 to 2021. In Samoa 88 per cent of companies reported they skilled difficulties ensuing from the pandemic. Employment shrunk by a mean of 5 per cent with the toughest hit sectors being development, tourism, private companies and transport. Within the interval 2020 to 2021, its was estimated that the FSM economic system contracted by 5 per cent. Whereas Pacific economies are on the mend, the typical charge of per capita GDP progress is predicted to be decrease than pre-2019 ranges.

As these nations transition into the post-pandemic part, leaders throughout the Pacific at the moment are on the lookout for modern methods to rejuvenate the MSME sector and speed up financial restoration. The event group is actively supporting nationwide and regional efforts to rebuild the personal sector and giving added emphasis to strengthening the resilience of micro and small enterprises in boosting employment, particularly for ladies and youth, and in curbing rising inequities worsened by the pandemic.

Enhancing social and financial wellbeing, employment, entrepreneurship, commerce and funding, local weather resilience and regional safety underpins the Pacific Islands Discussion board’s 2050 Technique for the Blue Pacific Continent in addition to its Pacific Regional E-commerce Technique and Roadmap. The Secretariat of the Pacific Group (SPC) applications proceed to concentrate on bettering the sustainability and business success of area of interest and small holder agriculture and different productive sectors. ADB’s Pacific Non-public Sector Improvement Initiative and Wholesome Oceans Motion Plan, along with the World Financial institution and IFC, are energetic in facilitating the expansion of extra aggressive personal sectors and responsive monetary markets. UNCDF, UNDP and UNCTAD are energetic within the e-commerce and fintech house and doing modern work in local weather threat safety for agri-businesses and MSMEs. The Market Improvement Facility (MDF) has expanded its personal enterprise help and specialised business sector growth applications in Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Vanuatu and Tonga. Within the final 3 years, the GGGI’s Greenpreneurs Program has supported the institution and progress of micro and small enterprises with a robust sustainability focus throughout the area.

This Undertaking on ‘Enhancing the ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation within the Pacific’ will draw on the various expertise of those applications and actively search synergies to deal with the revenue and livelihood challenges affecting these on the base of the economic system.

One measurement doesn’t match all

Due to the sub-regional distribution of the three pilot international locations (Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia), the Undertaking can be taking a cross-country strategy to yield insights into social and contextual variations that have an effect on micro and small enterprise house owners, recognising that every economic system is at completely different ranges of growth. It additionally recognises {that a} one-size-fits-all answer received’t work. By understanding the nuances of every nation (and sub-region), methods might be tailor-made to have essentially the most important influence within the Section 2 undertaking.

Understanding entrepreneurial mindsets

Comparable and up to date official statistics on micro and small enterprises in Pacific island international locations are sorely missing. The first knowledge collected and analyzed by this Undertaking will present a lot wanted and useful data for evidence-based technique and program growth.

The Section 1 analysis element can have a robust entrepreneur-centric focus. A mix of face-to-face and distant interviews can be performed within the three pilot international locations ranging from October 2023. Interviewers will interact with each established enterprise house owners in addition to aspiring entrepreneurs. The interviews will try to achieve insights into the mindset of small enterprise house owners to know what motivates their entrepreneurial journey, what holds them again, and the way their interplay with digital know-how enhances their participation in enterprise. As well as, enterprise help organisations (e.g., growth banks, small enterprise advisory companies, micro-finance establishments, MSME networks and startup incubators) can be interviewed to higher perceive the context by which entrepreneurs function in these international locations.

Catalytic function of native growth banks

Importantly, this Undertaking will collaborate with the FSM, Samoa and Solomon Islands growth banks. These three companion growth banks present financing and coaching to their debtors and may play a stronger catalytic function in driving the expansion of micro and small companies in addition to incentivising the registration of casual enterprises. The undertaking envisions a win-win scenario the place profitable entrepreneurs scale their companies and turn into empowered customers of monetary companies. Suggestions gathered from each current and potential small enterprise house owners, can allow the respective growth banks to customize their financing and advisory companies.

Regional answer creation and collaboration

The analysis findings can be offered to a gathering of key stakeholders deliberate for the primary quarter of 2024. It’s envisaged that stakeholders will attain consensus on priorities and concrete suggestions that may type the premise of a Section 2 undertaking to implement and check modern strategies to help micro and small enterprise house owners in every of the three international locations. Probably impactful areas to discover embrace the function of digital social networks in constructing a help ecosystem for small enterprise house owners and the appliance of inclusive digital know-how to deal with the social and bureaucratic limitations for ladies and younger adults to arrange and efficiently run a enterprise.

In addressing the dearth of major knowledge on Pacific micro and small companies, the dataset can be made out there to the event group and academia to higher inform technique and program formulation. The shared goal of this Undertaking is to empower formal and casual micro and small companies to turn into a resilient, modern and dynamic drive for equitable progress of Pacific economies.


Jeff Liew is a Digital Inclusion Specialist on the Basis for Improvement Cooperation.

Shawn Hunter is the Trade Fellow and Director, Inclusive Progress Applications on the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith College.

To search out out extra, go to web site or e-mail shawn.hunter@griffith.edu.au.

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