Pacific Connect Network Dialogue
Pacific Women Entrepreneurs – Technology Influencers
16-19 June 2019, Brisbane, Australia
- We, the participants of the Pacific Connect Network Dialogue on Pacific Women Entrepreneurs – Technology Influencers, met on 16-19 June 2019 in Brisbane, Australia at the invitation of the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships (ICDP), with the support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
- We would like to thank our hosts – Simone Pensko, Tina Briggs and the staff of ICDP – for their excellent arrangements and warm welcome to Brisbane, and Queensland Parliament House for hosting the event. We also thank Catherine Fritz-Kalish, Zha Agabe-Granfar and Michael Collins for their skilful facilitation of the sessions, and keynote speakers Anna Wright, Julie Gibson and Kalolaine Fainu for sharing their inspiring stories with us.
- We congratulate the organisers for assembling an impressive array of emerging female leaders from the Pacific and Australia. Participants had diverse backgrounds and experiences across a number of sectors, including business development and coaching, entrepreneurship and startups, government, academia, education, information and communication technologies, agriculture, real estate, the arts and creative industries, unmanned aerial vehicles, and assistive technology.
- We applaud Australia’s step-up in engagement with the Pacific and its commitment to build stronger, long-lasting relationships with Pacific Island nations. We believe that Pacific Connect and the ‘Second Track’ process offer opportunities to collaborate and build personal rapport in an informal, consultative environment that encourages positive, fresh thinking and a personal interest in achieving practical results. For Pacific women in particular, who may feel their voices are not always being heard, the ‘Second Track’ offers a safe and neutral platform to share stories and experiences, extend networks, broaden opportunities for professional and personal development, and seek projects and ideas to change their lives.
- We acknowledge that people must have a reason to connect and stay connected in order to build enduring relationships. We think that translating ideas into concrete projects is the best way to achieve this. We are inspired by the success of previous Pacific Connect Dialogues and projects such as ‘Every building is a classroom’ and in the Solomon Islands and the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Pacific Hub in Samoa, as they demonstrate what can be achieved through sustained collaboration.
- We recognise the need to empower women in the Pacific and the growing role of female entrepreneurs in economic and social development across the region. Encouraging female leadership of projects and networks and helping more women to create their own enterprises will invigorate Pacific economies and benefit all members of society.
- We agree that digital technologies play an increasingly important role in people’s lives and have the potential to transform the livelihoods of Pacific communities. We have learned through examples such as BindiMaps and Hitnet about the positive power of digital technologies to help vulnerable and disadvantaged people and the need to involve the community in co-designing future solutions. We also discussed the key ingredients of creating a successful business – personal conviction, listening to customers, continuous innovation, strong partnerships and collaboration, supportive environment such as co-working spaces, a long-term vision, and passion for change.
- We considered several areas for action, including potential projects which Dialogue participants could pursue collectively or in subgroups. These include:
- Stortytelling and digital content – Pacific film distribution in remote areas
- Developing a members-only online platform for the Pacific Connect Community
- Commercial cooperation around coca bean traceability and education – a potential joint project between Lukasco, TraSeable Solutions and Hitnet
- Enabling after-hour services for retail businesses
- Supporting entrepreneurialism that embraces Pacific culture
- Creative education using Indigenous culture in Australia’s education system
- Building an online retail estate workflow to streamline home-purchasing processes in PNG and tackle contract backlogs
- Developing online payment gateways to enable money transfers for small business
- Educating people about the Pacific through compelling stories and content about its produce
- Exploring the use of drones and barges for development in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands through collaboration between the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Soli Drone Services and Lukasco.
- Empowering Pacific entrepreneurs through business management training (QUT) and workshops and coaching in future Pacific Connect
- Educating Pacific businesses about the power of online social media platforms such as Instagram to tell their story and find new customers.
- We have slated the following four projects for immediate action, while recognising the value of other ideas:
- Mobile Cinema – enabling Pacific film distribution in remote Pacific communities, building on the Pasifika Film Fest’s experience, QUT’s technological expertise, and Global Access Partners’ network
- Digital Farmer – educating Pacific farmers about technology and digital solutions
- Payment Gateway – developing an online payment capability for Pacific businesses, based on Fiji Finds’ model
- The Network – building a members’ only online platform for Pacific Connect alumni to share profiles, contact information and areas of interests by extending the functionality of the existing Slack group and ICDP’s website
- We will develop these ideas and opportunities through further meetings, ICDP’s Slack forum and a dedicated Facebook page for the Pacific Connect Community. We appreciate the importance of clear objectives and firm timelines and will mobilise existing resources and adapt best international practice where possible. While not every idea from the Dialogue may come to fruition, we hope that the time and effort spent on their development will strengthen our personal links and form a foundation of longer-term relationships.
- We were inspired by our visit to The Precinct, the Queensland Government’s innovation hub, and greatly appreciated our guided tour of the Women’s Wealth exhibition at the QLD Art Gallery and the Gallery of Modern Art.
- We welcome the invitation to participate in the Pacific Connect Ideas Exchange, planned for Sydney, Australia on 18-19 September 2019, and look forward to forming closer bonds with other members of the fast-growing Pacific Connect Community.