Since 2018, we have been been a part of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships – Pacific Connect journey strengthening the links between Australia and the Pacific. We have supported grass root business women in mentoring, coaching, training and developing a strong bond to champion their success.
The Pacific Connect Program, delivered by the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) on behalf of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, aligns with the 2030 Agenda for the Sustainable Development Goals and supports the agenda of the Australian Government’s foreign policy priority to step-up Australia’s Pacific engagement.
The Program’s objective is to contribute to economic development in six Pacific Island countries (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga) by building stronger relationships, promoting economic prosperity and facilitating economic development and entrepreneurship among people and businesses in Australia and the Pacific.
The Program also engages and supports Pacific Islander entrepreneurs, particularly women, to progress their ideas by partnering them with an Australian entrepreneur or business.
This is achieved through the implementation of activities in the Pacific region that include Dialogues (small groups of Pacific Islanders and Australian equivalents together to explore opportunities to work on projects of mutual interest), professional development workshops, mentoring opportunities and projects developed through micro-investment funding.
Pacific Connect’s inception, we’ve partnered with the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Institute for Public Policy and Governance (IPPG) to deliver monitoring and evaluation initiatives associated with the Program. You can read more about our partnership and how the Program has adapted over time in their most recent case study.
Anna and Kylie have worked with a number of Women Entrepreneurs throughout this program as well as partnering and connecting with Australian based businesses on projects that are derived from the dialgoues.
Over the past 4 years we have continued to work to support bridging the gap for Women in the Pacific. Supporting the development of networks of businesswomen to provide upskilling, resources, support, coaching and mentoring. Women are more likely to be excluded from existing social networks that can help them advance their career.
Dedicated women’s networks are an important opportunity for women to plan for business growth, by accessing resources available through an organised network. The aim here is to help develop these networks not just within each nation but across nations, so that women in the Pacific have more support. As the Hon Julie Bishop stated in the Women and Business in the Pacific Report (2018), “Gender equality means that women can fully engage in the economy through their work, operating a business and as an employer. It also means women are leaders in their workplaces, communities and governments. Across the Pacific, in the majority of nations, women are yet to reach that level of engagement. There is enormous untapped potential for greater economic growth and community leadership. Women should be encouraged and supported to engage in education and training so that they have the skills to embrace opportunities and meet challenges.”
Every Building is a Classroom
Dr Anna Blackman was a part of the ‘Every Building is a Classroom’ project born out of the 2018 dialogue in the Solomon Islands. This project was a 2 year project which received funding from DFAT through the Technology for Development Change grant system to devise a project around mapping all buildings located across the Solomon Islands and determining if they could be used for educational purposes outside of their normal business hours. It uses the idea of AirBnB for buildings to be used outside of their normal daily functions for educating the nation. This will assist Government with assessments on whether there is a need to build further infrastructure as the aim is to fully utilise the buildings already there. The project was launched in partnership with Common Code. Read more about the project here.
Mobile Me Mapathon
Kylie Ellwood was part of the ‘Mobile Me’ project which was a project born from the Disability dialogue held in Fiji. This project was awarded seed funding from ICDP to develop an app to map the streets of Suva to collect data which mapped areas of accessibility for people living with disability. The collected data provides required insight for local council, business and tourist operations and employers to enhance the standard of living for people with disability. December 3rd, 2019 saw the Mapathon take place with volunteers from all around attend in support. You can read more about this project from International Centre for Democratic Partnerships here.