The private sector is the engine room of economic growth in Pacific Island countries.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) – which make up the majority of businesses in the Pacific – need professional business advice, technical assistance, training and mentoring to unlock their growth potential.
Business Link Pacific is a New Zealand Government funded, multi-country programme operating in the region, currently operating in Vanuatu Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.
The initiative enables SMEs to access better quality business advisory services that help business develop and grow, adopting an innovative and sustainable approach by establishing and strengthening the networks of business support services in Pacific Island countries.
Director of Business Link Pacific Steve Knapp says SMEs are busy running their businesses and often do not know what advisory services they need or are available for them.
"They may also lack the financial means to access the services needed to help their business grow," he says.
The programme has three key features: a Diagnostic and Referral Service, Subsidiary Scheme, and a Quality Assurance System.
"We consider specific business needs and identify the best local service providers so SMEs can access quality local business advisory services, while service providers can be connected to new clients,” Knapp says.
“We will provide, in the right cases, subsidies for businesses to access the new services.
"We also ensure the services offered are of the best quality and business advisory service providers are assessed regularly while skills development, technical assistance and mentoring are made available."
Business Link Pacific, which started in 2017, targets SMEs in the Pacific of between five and 50 employees, linking them with professional business advice, technical assistance, training and mentoring.
These advisory services may include financial accounting, business planning, strategy, human resources, marketing and advertising, among others.
SMEs account for more than half of all formal jobs worldwide, and it is these businesses which drive local growth and job creation.
They play an increasingly important role in addressing development and social and economic challenges and assume a vital role in the economic development and job creation of Pacific countries.
"Realising there is vast amount of experience, knowledge and skills from service providers already in the Pacific which can be developed and matched with businesses, we are here to offer solutions to business services development," Knapp says.
"This programme aims to help SMEs grow while empowering and upskilling business advisory providers and ultimately helping to develop the economies and create jobs."
How can people get involved?
If you are a business advisory service provider in the Pacific keen to expand your offer, service or trial new services with new or existing clients or if you are one of the small and medium enterprises operating in the Pacific who want to access business advisory services, get in touch with Business Link Pacific.
Email email@example.com or phone+64 21 209 3578 / +64 22 559 9647
Check out Business Link Pacific on Facebook and on LinkedIn.