A number of interesting projects in the Pacific and SE Asian regions have been undertaken by the Enterprise Challenge Fund. The fund (supported by AusAid) has helped finance ventures on a matched-fund basis. In all more than $12 million has been approved for 22 private sector projects operating in 8 countries.
This is aid funding at work in partnership with enterprise in a truly innovative fashion.
Investment has been across a number of sectors but agribusiness ventures have been a key feature. They ventures supported include:
- Beef breeding and grazing, in Vanuatu (Sarami Plantation)
- Duckling hatching with a decentralised grow-out program, in Fiji (Reddy Farms)
- Vanilla bean farming and extraction, in PNG (Puritau Ltd).
Most people are familiar with micro-finance initiatives but when funds are applied in this way – to ventures in developing counties – the scale is quite different; the multiplier effect and other flow-on social benefits can be quite rewarding.
The matched investment approach, business planning and the ongoing monitoring of projects by ECF – to help develop the ventures – are an integral part of this aid model.
If the ventures prove successful over time they increase commercial activity within the local communities, create employment opportunities and can sustain ongoing economic value.