Impact investments are those that look beyond financial return. They also aim to deliver measurable social and environmental impacts with positive development outcomes.

Pacific Readiness for Investment in Social Enterprise (Pacific RISE) is a pilot innovation of the Australian Government, implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) established to pioneer and facilitate a social impact investment market in the Pacific. Wherever possible, Pacific RISE will promote greater investment into businesses that improve economic and social outcomes for women and girls using gender lens investing analysis tools and approaches.

Initially, Pacific RISE will work with stakeholders (including investment funds and intermediaries) to learn and understand more about the Pacific and its social impact needs. Pacific RISE will then identify real investment opportunities in social enterprise businesses in the region.

Pacific RISE

Pacific RISE is pilot innovation of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The purpose of Pacific RISE is to demonstrate how impact investments in Pacific Island countries can be made. Through its activities it also captures and shares knowledge about the investment process and the Pacific ecosystem in order to increase capital flows into regional markets.

Pacific RISE works with investors and financial intermediaries to develop understanding of the potential for impact investment in the Pacific region. Pacific RISE works with a range of partners to design finance mechanisms and tools to increase investment in the Pacific with a gender lens. Pacific RISE is diversifying access to appropriate capital for these businesses.

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What we

Pacific RISE is a pilot innovation of the Australian Government to demonstrate impact investments in the Pacific and deepen the knowledge about the investment process and the Pacific investment ecosystem.

We are achieving this through the development of learning and implementation tools.  Many of these tools are a first for the Pacific and for the Australian Government.

Our Investment Thesis: Our investment thesis explores five potential futures for the Pacific and is designed to guide investors to what is possible.  A first of its kind for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade it has been used by investors and intermediaries to better inform their business decisions. It is regularly updated to ensure the latest data is available.

Our Gender Lens Investing Tools:We are developing a series of tools that are assisting investors, intermediaries and social enterprises to expand their ability to see gender trends and cultural influences so as to make better investment decisions.  Our Gender Equality Resource Tool is a library of relevant research about gender in the Pacific that facilitates a well-informed gender lens analysis in the Pacific.

Our Gender Based Violence Due Diligence Tool is available here

Research Reports and Learning tools:  Since we commenced in January 2017 the team and our partners have been collating data and experiences.  These have been synthesized and detailed in our annual reports.  In addition, we are commissioning research and publishing reports on different investment opportunities, including that of the Pacific menstrual health market.


Impact investment opportunities in the Pacific

Opportunities for impact investment in the Pacific Islands are largely untapped.  Private sector businesses regularly tackle governance, social and environmental impacts in the course of their operations and the Pacific is fertile ground for innovative ideas.

The Australian Government recognises the importance of the private sector in the Pacific and the need to move relationships from being based on aid to being an economic partnership2. Improving economic outcomes requires investment in women’s economic development; therefore, the Australian Government has a strong focus on investing in businesses that improve conditions for Pacific women.

Pacific RISE has developed an investment thesis to guide potential investors to consider the future potential of the Pacific, and demonstrate with data and research, how that possible future can be made with investment in sectors such as agriculture, technology, transport and informal markets.

  2. Creating Shared Value through Partnership, (2015) Ministerial Statement on engaging the Private Sector in Aid and Development

Opportunities arising in the Pacific

Since Pacific RISE’s first scoping mission in 2017 intermediaries have documented some of the opportunities for investment. In addition, Pacific RISE has identified that the menstrual health market and the creative arts industries market provide particular opportunities for investment within the Pacific.

Pacific RISE intermediaries found several opportunities for impact investment within the Pacific:

  • The Pacific has a range of economic opportunities with each country, market or sector exhibiting environmental and economical strengths. Intermediaries have found several opportunities to pursue investment readiness funding with companies in agribusiness, creative arts, and health, water and sanitation that will provide a demonstration of impact investment to deepen knowledge on the Pacific investment ecosystem.
  • Sectors that have the most potential for impact investment are in enhancing accessibility to education, agriculture, marine/aquaculture and healthcare.
  • The types of businesses with the most potential impact are those that can effectively mobilise labour, domestic and international agro-trade and efficient services within a supply chain with an opportunity to diversify and adopt a technological component to the business.
  • Many businesses in the Pacific have a social or environmental focus by their nature and their deep connections to the community. In the Pacific culture, wealth is perceived as a collective possession where it is ‘generated for the common good’. If wealth is produced, it is expected that it contributes to the community.
  • Pacific businesses link to supply chains and customers in rural areas, have community focus and often look at opportunities to develop environmentally sensitive approaches given the high potential for climate related impacts on businesses.

Of course, the Pacific also presents some strong challenges to investment. In 2019, Pacific RISE core activities build capacity to address these constraints through its program of gender lens investing, networking with and providing support to the Pacific investment ecosystem, and provision of technical support and learning to investors and intermediaries.

Unlocking the

Unlocking the potential in the Pacific menstrual health market:

Lessons learned from the Pacific RISE workshop of menstrual
health actors working its the Asia-Pacific region.

Find out more and read our report.


As a pilot program, a core element of Pacific RISE is measuring, evaluating and learning from our impacts.  You can read more about our lessons that we have learned since we have been operating.


Pacific RISE is proud to have supported the movement of capital

Read about Cathy, a Papuan New Guinean entrepreneur who became the recipient of Kiva’s first loan in PNG thanks to its partnership with Pacific RISE intermediary, REAL Impact.


Read our latest report, or review our archives

  1. Unlocking the Opportunity 
  2. Our Annual Report 2018
  3. Our Investment thesis 

Case Studies

Want to know about how Pacific RISE intermediaries are applying a gender lens and uncovering new opportunities?
We have stories for you from two of our partner intermediaries.

Pacific RISE TDi Gender Lens Case Study

Read how Anna Moegerlin from The Difference Incubator identified a new investment opportunity by using a gender lens.
Pacific RISE Good Return Gender Lens Case Study

Read how Jessie and Michelle from Good Return are applying a gender lens and adapting their own internal company policies as a result.

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“Good Return has always applied a gender analysis in our programs, but the gender lens investing analysis enables us to go beyond counting women in business, and examine the gender norms, leadership and authority challenges that women face in a value chain.  Just because a woman is present doesn’t mean she is active in the decision-making process.”
– Jessie Fisher, Pacific Regional Manager, Good Return

A gender lens on investment leads to better outcomes for women

Wherever possible, Pacific RISE will promote greater investment in businesses that deliver women’s economic empowerment.

Pacific RISE works with the Criterion Institute[1], a think tank specialised in gender lens investing, to show how a gender lens can be applied during the investment process alongside a financial analysis and supports finance intermediaries and investors in implementing a gender lens.

This has led to intermediaries changing how they see value in businesses that have an impact on women’s economic empowerment and the market overall. The Difference Incubator shares their experience of this in Vanuatu.

A gender lens has also uncovered the hidden value of markets where women in the Pacific predominantly participate, such as creative arts and menstrual health, as well as looking at social issues affecting women such as gender-based violence.  Pacific RISE, through the support of the Criterion Institute is putting together a world first – a due diligence tool for investors that will highlight areas of risk due to gender-based violence.

Pacific RISE supports intermediaries and investors to use a gender lens in scoping, selecting businesses, investment readiness, due diligence, enterprise support and measuring outcomes. This has created a ripple effect, with some intermediaries, such as Good Return applying a gender lens across all of their portfolio, not just those Pacific investments.

Pacific RISE uses Criterion Institute’s expertise to link with global opportunities to attract investors and support from others committed to finance as a tool for gender equality. This way, Pacific RISE can work with investors to showcase how a gender lens produces better investment returns, stronger impact and at times uncovers innovation or opportunities that may have otherwise been overlooked.  The Pacific RISE investment thesis showcases six potential futures for the Pacific, with each of these having been informed by a gender lens.

Find out more about our approach to gender lens investing by:

Watching our videos

Review our gender lens tools

Read our case studies from The Difference Incubator and Good Return

Subscribe to our e-newsletter

Or get in-touch at



Australian Aid Logo

Australian Government

The Australian Government’s aid program reflects Australia’s values and its commitment to reducing poverty and lifting living standards through sustainable economic growth.

Pacific RISE is an example of the Australian Government’s new development paradigm and is piloting a new way for how Australia delivers aid. It is an innovative model that incorporates private sector partnerships that leverage finance and ideas from a range of networks to achieve social and economic development outcomes.

For more information about Australia’s new development paradigm visit Australia’s aid program.

Coffey Logo


Coffey International Development (Coffey) has more than forty years of business and development experience across the Pacific and is an implementing partner of development programs, such as Pacific RISE, for governments and organisations across the globe. Working with organisations including Pacific Trade Invest (Australia) and Criterion Institute to deliver Pacific RISE, Coffey will access its expertise, networks and connections that it has developed after decades working in the Pacific. Coffey has a physical presence with local teams across the region who provide technical assistance on how to navigate the Pacific impact investment ecosystem.

Coffey is a Tetra Tech company, part of a global network providing innovative solutions focused on water, environment, infrastructure, resource management, energy and international development.


Implementing Partners

Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Australia

PTI Australia is the Pacific’s lead trade and investment promotion agency. They develop and promote businesses and people from the region though trade, investment, tourism and labour mobility. With an extensive network and a deep understanding of the Pacific, PTI Australia supports private sector growth to work towards their vision of “improving the livelihoods of Pacific People by enabling decent work and economic growth in the Blue Pacific.”

PTI Australia is an agency of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat funded by the Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).


Criterion Institute

Pacific RISE is partnering with the Criterion Institute to fully integrate the practice of gender lens investing throughout the investment process.  This strengthens the process of surfacing and analysing deals as well as ensuring that Pacific RISE delivers on its goals for improving women’s economic empowerment, with a strong emphasis on addressing gender-based violence. Pacific RISE leads the practice of gender lens investing within a portfolio of other DFAT investments that focus on leveraging new flows of private capital. The Pacific RISE team, its partners and other stakeholders have, and will continue to participate in forums and technical assistance exchanges to share and amplify gender lens investing approaches.

In addition, the Criterion Institute is drawing on its extensive investor networks and its over 15 years as a financial think tank to design and lead Pacific RISE’s investment thesis and investor engagement strategy.  It is also assisting Pacific RISE to develop a range of gender resources tools for investors and intermediaries to enhance their approach to investing with a gender lens.

Visit: Criterion Institute 


Amanda Jupp

Facility Manager


Or download the Pacific RISE fact sheet

If you are a social enterprise or intermediary, please get in-touch.