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The Future of Green Entrepreneurship in the Pacific

August 21st was World Entrepreneurs’ Day, a day to celebrate innovation and empowerment of entrepreneurship and leadership to acknowledge entrepreneurs’ achievements and contributions towards job creation and economic growth. In these turbulent times, there is increasing recognition of just how vital it is to support small businesses to adapt, survive and thrive.

At the recent virtual launch of the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN), a regional program implemented by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and funded by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), a talanoa session on the topic “What is the future of green entrepreneurship in the Pacific?” was held featuring inspiring entrepreneurs and business support organizations from five Pacific Island Countries.

Green entrepreneurship refers to business enterprises that are focused on building a better future for their communities and the planet. Green entrepreneurs hold the key to unlocking a transition to a green and sustainable future for our planet, enabling current prosperity without jeopardizing that of future generations.

The compelling talanoa session showcased well-known Pacific entrepreneurs and innovators – Kenneth Katafono from TraSeable Solutions (Fiji), Vani Nades from Emstret Holdings Limited (Papua New Guinea), Marc-Antoine Morel from V-LAB (Vanuatu), Elizabeth Kite from Isle 676 (Tonga) and Vaitulia Alatina Ioelu from Samoa Business Hub (Samoa) – and unpacked a number of similar themes across the Pacific region with lessons for all enterprises, business support providers and policymakers.

1.Many Pacific businesses are already ‘green enterprises’ without knowing it

Many panelists expressed that “Green Entrepreneurship IS the Pacific way”. While they may not be familiar with terms such as ‘green entrepreneurship’ or ‘social impact’, many businesses across the Pacific already intentionally contribute to supporting the needs of their communities and land, either through their business operations or investing profits back into their communities and hence creating positive impact on communities and environment.

2. Pacific entrepreneurs need access to opportunities and information, both at the early stage and beyond

The panel shared similar challenges in each of the five countries represented including accessing resources – particularly funding to grow and accessing government support and information on business requirements. Knowing where to go to get help is currently informal and can be hard to access for new entrepreneurs. Women and youth in particular face greater barriers to accessing funding, training opportunities and having the confidence, courage and support to pursue their dreams.

3. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely path – being connected to networks can build confidence and forge durable roads

Entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from being connected to supportive mentors and coaches who have done it before, and peers who are walking beside you. Resonating with the Pacific way, having a family of entrepreneurs to believe in, support, guide and listen can make a world of difference. Many such networks exist already and can be strengthened further.

4. Confidence and creativity are key to successful green entrepreneurship

True entrepreneurs don’t just replicate existing businesses, they see problems and identify creative ways to solve them. Entrepreneurs, particularly green enterprises testing new and innovative ideas, need to have passion and confidence to follow through to bring their ideas to life, to adapt to the evolving challenges they face and identify and grasp the opportunities therein.

At the launch event, Keynote Speaker, Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) Secretary General, Ambassador Solo Mara stated that “PGEN is an important pathway for women’s economic empowerment, because entrepreneurship has a multiplier effect on family well-being, poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.”

GGGI’s Country Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu, Daniel Muñoz-Smith and moderator of the talanoa session said, “The talanoa discussion has been an excellent opportunity to exchange knowledge and begin the dialogue that the PGEN program aims to continue over the coming years. PGEN aims to showcase Pacific solutions to Pacific problems on a national, regional and global scale.”

GGGI’s program plans to support green and inclusive job growth by supporting entrepreneurs, particularly women and youth, develop their green and sustainable businesses in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. The launch event also opened the call for applications for the 2021 Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator and Mentor program

Applications for the Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator program close on 5th September and the Mentor program close on 12th of September.

The Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator program will run annually and will offer training and mentoring for early-stage green entrepreneurs. Successful entrepreneurs in the incubator program will have the opportunity to participate in a business competition to secure grant seed fund capital of USD$5,000.

The Pacific Greenpreneurs Accelerator program will be launched in 2022 and will target high growth potential green enterprises, offering repayable grants of up to USD$50,000, investor linkages, training and mentorship.

For up-to-date information on the PGEN program, Incubator, Mentor and Accelerator programs and launch event visit www.pacificgreenpreneurs.com and subscribe to PGEN’s mailing list.

APPLY BY 5th September to participate in the Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator Program and 12th September for the Mentor Program!
• INCUBATOR Application Guidelines and Form: https://www.pacificgreenpreneurs.com/incubator
• MENTOR Application Guidelines and Form: https://www.pacificgreenpreneurs.com/become-a-mentor

For more information on the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network please click on the links below:
• PGEN Launch Recording: https://youtu.be/lziqFvNubmc
• Video Clip on “What does green entrepreneurship mean to you” https://youtube.com/watch?v=yyu3fuZFvyg
• Pacific Greenpreneurs website https://www.pacificgreenpreneurs.com/

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