Australia-Pacific Connections for a Digital Future
Pacific Women Entrepreneurs Dialogue
Develop Your Ideas – Grow Your Impact
16-18 February 2020, Brisbane, Australia
- We, the participants of the Pacific Connect Pacific Entrepreneurs Dialogue “Develop Your Ideas – Grow your Impact”, met in Brisbane, Australia on 16-18 February 2020 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 thank the Dialogue’s conveners and hosts – ICDP and Queensland Parliament House –for their warm welcome and hospitality, and congratulate the organisers for presenting a rich and informative programme of activities, including workshops, group discussions, presentations, pitching sessions, networking events and visits to local innovation hubs and social enterprises.
- We were impressed by the calibre of participants brought together by this Dialogue, and found networking and information sharing to be one of the most valuable parts of the event. The Dialogue assembled a dynamic group of social entrepreneurs and emerging female leaders from Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, each with an inspiring personal story to share. Our professional backgrounds ranged from storytelling, social impact, health, education, community and disability services to banking, agri-business and fisheries, clean energy, information and communications technologies (ICT), media and business consulting.
- We thank the Dialogue’s facilitators – Catherine Fritz-Kalish, Kim Graham-Nye and Wilmaraia Vocor – for their mentorship, guidance and support throughout the event, and presenters – Kim Graham-Nye, Emma Koster and Kylie Ellwood – for their unique insights, passion and honesty in revealing their own business journeys. We also enjoyed the opportunity to meet other members of the Pacific Connect Community and the broader ICDP network at a welcome dinner and look forward to continuing conversations through future projects and social media.
- We welcome Australia’s increasing engagement with the Pacific and its commitment to forging stronger interpersonal links with Pacific Island nations. We believe that Pacific Connect offers a powerful platform for cross-Pacific collaboration and relationship-building, as its informal, consultative environment encourages positive, fresh thinking and creates personal interest in achieving practical results.
- We note the strong synergies between the ‘Second Track’ Process and Pacific talanoa, as outlined at the Dialogue by Niki Goulding, and embrace their common traits. These include a foundation of mutual trust, the need for a comfortable place for people to share ideas, the importance of listening as well as talking, the setting of idealistic goals with realistic steps to reach them, the valuing of different perspectives and the expertise of others as well as our own, and respect for cultural context in assessing issues and solutions.
- We celebrate the empowerment of women in the Pacific and the growing role that female entrepreneurs and social enterprises play in economic and social development across the region. Providing new learning experiences and networking opportunities for Pacific and Australian entrepreneurs will encourage female leadership of projects and networks and inspire more women to create their own businesses and pursue positive social goals to benefit all members of Pacific societies.
- We acknowledge the importance of new technology in shaping the economic future of the Pacific. Our region has the opportunity to ‘leap-frog’ the legacy infrastructure of larger nations, while benefiting from their experience. We believe the future will be shaped by emerging leaders with progressive ideas, innovative solutions and a passion to make a difference to their communities. The concept of ‘social enterprise’ resonates with the Pacific’s traditional community values, and we were pleased to learn more about the impact that social innovation can have from presentations by Vessel Nundah, Lose Your Mind, gDiapers, Hello Cass, and Nundah Cooperative.
- We appreciate the value of skilful storytelling in promoting ideas and gained useful insights into the art of creating business narratives from the ‘What’s your legacy?’ workshop led by Wilmaraia Vocor. She showed us that our vulnerability can be our strength, and encouraged us to remember our personal motivations, remain curious about the world, and use every opportunity to help others. She made a profound impression on all of us, and the deeply emotional personal stories shared by participants during the workshop will stay with us forever.
- We agree that working together on practical projects can be a strong catalyst for long-term relationship-building and look forward to exploring the collaborative opportunities which emerged from the Dialogue. These include, but are not limited to, Coconut Wired, Green House Studio, Central Family Day Care and an organic coffee start-up in PNG. We applaud the courage shown by these projects’ leaders in pitching their ideas to the Dialogue with minimal preparation time, and we will continue to help them with information, introductions, mentoring and advice whenever possible.
- Our experience at the Pacific Connect Dialogue has been a highly positive one, and we will promote Pacific Connect to other forward-looking individuals with bold ideas, a positive, ‘big picture’ outlook, and a passion for social issues. Pacific Connect offers a safe and inclusive cross-cultural platform where people can share stories and experiences, extend networks, broaden professional and personal development, and explore projects and business ideas for future collaboration between Australia and the Pacific, and we are happy to help raise awareness about the programme.
- We would welcome an invitation to participate in the annual Pacific Connect Ideas Exchange, to be held in Sydney on 9-10 September 2020, and look forward to continuing our involvement in Pacific Connect. We will continue to strengthen our relationships with current and emerging leaders of the vibrant Pacific Connect Community to pursue our personal business goals and help build a more resilient and prosperous Pacific for us all.