Why invest

For Pacific Islanders, social impact is not new. It is what the Pacific has always done.  It’s always been about caring for the next person and making a difference about the space that that they live in.  What’s changed, what’s shifted, is that the Pacific is looking at how it can become more sustainable with having more opportunities created for Pacific Islanders. 

Opportunities for 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. 

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

The Pacific RISE investment thesis – designed in 2017 and updated here in 2021 as part of our Pacific Possibilities work examining how we can better design financial vehicles with power dynamics and the needs of the Pacific in mind – looks ahead at least 15 years in order to identify where to invest today. By aligning innovative, impact-oriented financial vehicles with the desired social and economic outcomes, investors, intermediaries and local communities will be able to lay resilient, equitable and adaptable foundations for Pacific economies. 

The updated investment thesis looks at how the Pacific ecosystem has changed during the 5 years of Pacific RISE, and assesses if and how the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacts on this vision for the future. The thesis provides the foundation for the possible vehicle designs suggested in the next sections. We also looked at what it takes to build a better financial vehicle – and pulled out 12 pacific possibilities for investment that would disrupt entrenched power dynamics. Addressing these power dynamics requires a departure from prevailing or common finance models, and instead developing financial innovations that enable organisations to make more equitable deals – deals that are ultimately more successful at achieving the desired social and financial returns.

Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle

The Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle is an innovative finance solution that uses trade finance to enable reliable and affordable access to the fabrics needed by local entrepreneurs making reusable menstrual pads. It was a demand driven design led by the Pacific entrepreneurs themselves, implemented by partners Red Hat Impact, Lotus Impact and Criterion institute, and facilitated by Pacific RISE.  

The first iteration of this vehicle raised US$49,316 (AU$67,710) from a syndicate of 15 investors from Australia, US and Sweden and its design was supported by an advisory board made up of experts from the Pacific. To date, four enterprises from Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands have benefited from the lower prices and received the first shipment in early 2021. The vehicle will continue to support enterprises in the region and the intermediaries are also working on how this can be replicated and scaled for use in other markets and sectors that have similar constraints. 

The success to date of the MHTFV pilot demonstrates how an innovative and collaborative approach to blended investment can be a means of facilitating a new market opportunity, enabling improved access to necessary healthcare products, and supporting venture creation for both women entrepreneurs and informal businesses.  

The MHTFV prioritises and respects women’s expertise, knowledge and voice in their work and in the relationship-building process. This is a value-added component of the MHTFV that sets it apart from other entities that provide business consulting and financing support. The MHTFV meets women entrepreneurs and their enterprises ‘where they are at’ and uses finance to effectively solve a problem for them. These elements are critical in helping women achieve their dreams to build a thriving and successful business that creates jobs and meets the menstruation needs of women and girls in their communities. 

The Trade finance vehicle was named a winner of the Impact Investment Australia Award for Market Builder of the Year for 2020.   

Check out the video about the design of the Menstrual Health Trade Finance Vehicle – and our case study on the work.  

Tools for investing in the Pacific