European Aid Program deploys Business Development Diagnostics and Toolkit across Pacific Island Communities

The Challenge

As well as its role in harmonizing regional positions on various political and policy issues, the Forum Secretariat has technical programs in economic development. Building successful businesses in the region requires business people to understand what capability is required to be competitive, and then how to acquire this capability across the region. They don’t want theory; they want tools that will enable them to identify the issues that are constraining business growth. The business capability program was developed in conjunction with the University of the South Pacific, the premier provider of tertiary education in the Pacific.

The Solution

QLBS ran a series of workshops throughout the region that provided the Economic Development Agencies with the diagnostic tools that enabled them to identify what the businesses need to do to improve their business functionality. These tools were linked to the World Bank SME toolkit, which provides some of the solutions to the identified issues. These diagnostic tools are available both online and offline, so that knowledge transfer, benchmarking, and regional strategies can be continued. In addition, the business capabilities could be cross compared to the work done amongst the Maori and Pacific Island businesses of New Zealand.

Results

Workshops were held across all 16 Pacific Island States to train the business development managers of those islands. These managers collectively did over 800 assessments with SME businesses using both web based and laptop applications. A database of assessment results has been collected. Cross analysis and benchmarking has provided an accurate view of capability requirements across individual countries and the region as a whole. The individual businesses themselves now have a road map for improvement with identified actions that need to be taken. The Economic Development Agencies have co-operated across the region allowing pooling of resources to deliver improvement programs.

The initial results provided a baseline. Future assessments can be conducted in the same way, measuring performance improvement over time and validating effectiveness of interventions.

Further Aid funding is being applied for to continue a role out of the business development program across the region.

The Pacific Forum is an inter-governmental organization which aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean and represent their interests. The Forum's member states are: Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

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