THE Australian Government is shifting part of its $1.1 billion (US$881 million) aid program for the Pacific this financial year, to support private investment that creates jobs and thus boosts long-term economic health for the region.
As part of that shift, it has announced it will co-ordinate the investment of $5m (US$4 million) in 20 Pacific Islands businesses — a large amount in small countries — that are focused on building opportunities for women.
The leading role in this new program is being taken by Pacific Trade Invest, part of Australia’s trade establishment, with investments focused on women being co-ordinated by Pacific RISE.
Caleb Jarvis, the commissioner of PTI, said the Pacific offered opportunities for investors to break new ground and contribute to impact-investing more substantially than in other markets.
“While philanthropy and grants have historically been a significant part of capital flow in the Pacific, opportunities for investing with a social impact are largely untapped. The Pacific is fertile ground for innovative ideas,” he said.
There is growing recognition within both government and business, he said, that investing in women and girls has a powerful effect on productivity, efficiency and economic growth.