Pacific Connect holds Financial Education Dialogue in Brisbane

Entrepreneurs, community leaders and representatives from a range of sectors gathered in Brisbane from 10-13 November to discuss how improved financial education and literacy can increase business opportunities for Pacific entrepreneurs. The third Dialogue in ICDP’s successful Pacific Women Entrepreneurs series saw 29 delegates from Australia, Fiji, PNG, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu collaborate in a variety of discussions, financial literacy and grant-writing workshops, innovation hub visits and networking activities.

The Dialogue began with a networking event on Sunday 10 November, allowing our international and Australian-based participants to engage with each other in a social environment before the more professional elements of the event. These networking periods are critical to developing people-to-people connections between Australian and Pasifika participants.

Financial education for Pacific women was the primary focus on the second day of the Dialogue, during which participants came together to learn from financial education experts and entrepreneurs and to collaborate on potential projects. Co-Facilitators Catherine Fritz-Kalish, Director of ICDP and Managing Director of Global Access Partners (GAP), and Pauline Benson, Founder of Pacific Finds, commenced proceedings with inspiring insights into their respective entrepreneurial journeys and the importance of taking advantage of educational opportunities and networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

Participants then delved into the world of financial literacy with a masterclass from Andrew Carriline, ICDP Ambassador. Focusing on key skills required for sound financial management. Andrew led the participants through hands-on and informative sessions ranging from requisite knowledge (‘Are you financially literate enough to succeed’) through to advanced financial skills (‘Financial literacy concepts for entrepreneurs’).

A highlight of the morning was the chance for our business representatives to hear and learn from Simone Joyce, Managing Director of Paypa Plane. Simone provided some wonderful insights and tips from her experiences with FinTech startups. Paypa Plane is an innovative recurring payment app that facilities an automated payment process to improve customer and business experience and reduce cost and man hours involved.

Co-facilitators Catherine and Pauline moved the Dialogue on to a group information-sharing and discussions on potential projects to take forward with the Pacific Connect Community. The ideas that came out of the Dialogue include the creation of a Pacific label similar to AusMade to enable consumers to verify authenticity; development of a business hub for rural women in Fiji and Samoa; adoption of an agricultural information app to encourage Pacific youth to engage in farming; enhancing supply chain in the Solomon Islands using Pacific Finds; and adapting TalkiPlay for saving and teaching languages in the Pacific. With Community member projects now well-established and making a name for themselves throughout the region, ICDP continues to support members in achieving their entrepreneurial #DigitalPacific goals.

Turning their focus back to strengthening meaningful relationships, the participants joined current leaders and members of the Pacific Connect Community for the Networking Dinner, during which Peta Ellis and Dr Annie McAuley gave the keynote addresses.

As Co-Founder of Tribe Global and Peak Persona, Peta delivered an inspirational keynote on community-led entrepreneurship and opportunities for small business leaders to drive developmental change in their communities. In particular, Peta emphasised that the Pacific already enjoys strong cultural and people-to-people connections which provide a strong platform on which to build organisations and business. The easier part is to build business skills, networks and knowledge to grow opportunities.

The second keynoted address of the night was from Dr Annie McAuley of TalkiPlay. Annie inspired the room with an emotional and uplifting story on the power of ideas to change lives. Seventeen years ago, Dr McAuley (an elite downhill skier) was involved in a skiing accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury, forcing her to relearn how to walk and talk. Years later, her daughter, like one in five children under five years old in Australia, was struggling with a delay in language development. Dr McAuley used her experience to develop a program that empowers a child to learn a language in a hands-on way. Using an app interface controlled by the parent, the child immerses themselves in the learning process by engaging with household objects, encouraging children to explore their own world to accelerate development. ICDP thanks both Peta and Annie for their inspiring addresses given to attendees.

The action-packed programme continued the final day with a visit to our friends at The Storyboxes for a grant-writing workshop. Participants enjoyed the wonderful space and hospitality provided by Sarah Mak and David Lloyd-Lewis who are active members and project leaders of the Pacific Connect Community
The workshop was delivered by Dr Anna Blackman of the Insight Collective Group. With extensive experience as Associate Dean of Research at James Cook University, Anna brought local, national and international grant-writing knowledge to our delegation and facilitated sessions on grant-writing skills and programme management. Anna and her business partner Kylie Ellwood continue to work on projects developed through Pacific Connect dialogues in the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Brisbane.

To conclude our latest event in Brisbane, participants visited Fishburners co-working space in Brisbane CBD for a guided tour of the facility. What a delightful way to end the ‘financial education’ Dialogue in Brisbane! We welcome our new Community members and current leaders to our network and can’t wait to see what projects and connections will develop through continued collaboration!

See the official photo gallery.