Market Development Facility Expands in the Pacific to Include Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu

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Samoa reopens its borders on 1 August 2022. Image: Samoa Tourism.

The private sector development initiative, Market Development Facility (MDF) has widened its focus to three new Pacific Island Countries, with work beginning this year in Samoa.

Funded by the Australian and New Zealand Governments, MDF will look to strengthen innovation and market-driven solutions in select sectors in Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

MDF’s Pacific Regional work is based on developing successful business models in Fiji, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Timor-Leste, collaborating with national governments, industry associations, and businesses of all scale.

MDF’s Pacific Regional portfolio reflects the Australian and New Zealand Governments’ commitment to supporting market-based solutions to increase economic participation in the Pacific.

The program will focus on improving livelihoods and reducing poverty through these solutions.

MDF’s key areas of focus will be Agriculture, Information and Communications Technology, Transport and Logistics, and Business Development Services.

MDF will also explore opportunities to support Women’s Economic Empowerment and investment in Climate Change adaptation and mitigation.

Initial work underway includes a collaboration with United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and Asian Development Bank on the Pacific Islands Fintech Innovation Challenge, with MDF supporting the challenge in Samoa.

“The Australian Government is committed to supporting our Blue Pacific family as they continue to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and climate change,” Emily Luck, Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa said. “We know the pandemic has exacerbated the economic and social wellbeing of the Pacific, and we are pleased to support the critical work of MDF that builds resilience and contributes to sustainable economies for our region.”

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New Zealand’s High Commissioner to Samoa, Dr Trevor Matheson said, “Aotearoa New Zealand is dedicated to supporting a peaceful, secure, prosperous and resilient Pacific. The region faces challenges such as limited economies of scale, remoteness, poor infrastructure, which are now compounded by the impacts of the pandemic and natural disasters. We are pleased to support MDF in its work to support sustainable economic growth in the Pacific and respond to these challenges.”

MDF Pacific Regional Director Nicholas Wolf admits the work will be challenging but is optimistic of the positive impact the program will have in supporting innovative business models.

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“We have already started some scoping work and have identified some markets where MDF could play a helpful role. Market systems are dynamic in nature, and the economic landscape has changed greatly in the last two years. We look forward to collaborating with the Samoan Government and the private sector, and capitalising on emerging economic opportunities,”,” emphasised Wolf.

In its scoping work – a key first step in starting operations in-country, MDF scours the economy to understand key sectors and pin down areas which are feasible for support and will have a strong impact on incomes and jobs.

MDF has leveraged USD24.8million in private sector investment since it started in 2012, which had benefitted a cumulative 439,447 people by the end of 2021. Women make up 44 per cent of this number and generated USD157 million in additional income.