Coffey is supporting the Australian Government’s Pacific RISE program bringing investment to our region
Investment in social enterprises in the Pacific is at an exciting juncture and Coffey, through its management of the Australian Government’s Pacific RISE Facility, is proud to be a part of the growth and evolution of a new and emerging impact investing sector in the Pacific.
I believe that it’s time to move beyond charity and grants and donor control and dependency in the Pacific. It’s the right time for new investors and capital to start engaging and allow Pacific businesses to connect with them. It’s also time to recognise the real influence, contribution and value-add that women make in the Pacific. Women are good for business, and the Pacific is a new market for investors. I am really enjoying being part of the Pacific RISE, it’s definitely a new and innovative way for me to engage.
Impact investments are those that look beyond simply a return on investment. Impact investing has—at its core—the aim of financing and delivering social and environmental impacts as well. Globally, impact investing is big news, but here in the Pacific there is no current market and little readiness for investors to invest. Pacific RISE aims to change that. This pilot innovation of the Australian Government, managed by Coffey, will work with investment funds and other intermediaries to develop a social impact investment market in the region – bringing new private capital into the Pacific and new support to deliver substantial social and financial returns.
It’s time to move beyond charity and grants and donor control and dependency in the Pacific. It’s the right time for new investors and capital to start engaging and allow Pacific businesses to connect with them. It’s also time to recognise the real influence, contribution and value-add that women make in the Pacific. Women are good for business, and the Pacific is a new market for investors … I am really excited to be going to SOCAP and to meeting people who want to take a good look at the Pacific.
It’s almost a year since the program began in January 2017 and already we’re able to see how we are already making a difference to both the sector and the people of the Pacific. At the program’s design phase, Coffey worked closely with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to design a flexible and agile program. We knew—thanks to more than forty years of working in development across the Asia Pacific—that program designs require flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing needs, objectives and political will. Pacific RISE was designed with flexible elements so that the program could evolve without losing sight of its overarching goal and objectives.
One important example of its flexibility was at the program’s inception workshop. Here, working with partners the Criterion Institute, we saw an opportunity to deliver a greater gender focus at the very beginning of the program – embedding a gender lens from the start. We could see that women make significant contributions to their communities and economies and although this was always going to be an important factor in the program’s delivery, the program was able to integrate gender lens investing from its earliest stages.
This required not only in-depth knowledge and experience of the region and its people but also the trust of our client in our management team to adapt the original design while still delivering both results and value for money. Without deep knowledge and understanding of the areas in which we work, we could not provide this level of agility combined with exceptional results.
Our team is lean but we make good use of our broader management experience through Coffey’s programs globally and we actively work across and with our networks to ensure we bring the best brains to the table every time.
We’re now entering another exciting phase. Over the past year we’ve worked with many investors who are now beginning to see the potential in the Pacific. Although this is exciting, we need to make sure that we are providing investors with an overarching concept of what impact investing in the Pacific could—and should—look like.
We came up with the idea of an Investment Thesis where we look at the future for the Pacific based on the impacts of the work that Pacific RISE is doing. Here, we’ve looked at particular trends along with ideas for the future. All have been developed with a gender lens and draw on Coffey’s understanding of gender patterns and challenges in the Pacific.
Why an investment thesis? We want people to think differently about the Pacific’s future. We want to turn what could be perceived as barriers to investment as opportunities instead. We want investors to understand what the Pacific will look like 15 years’ time so they can understand why now is a good time to invest.
We’ve looked at some of the issues that the Pacific faces today, from climate change to political instability, from connectivity through technology and transport to reshaping value chains, and from the value of the informal sector and the people and markets of the Pacific. Together with investors, we will develop a product that looks into the future with a hopeful, compelling vision of the Pacific. Knowing where we want to be, we can find opportunities for investment that capture this vision, creating a shared goal amongst partners, communities and investors.
Our vision for each of these themes is supported by case studies from a range of Pacific companies that are paving the way for future investments. Investors can see what is happening and how the Australian Government is actively supporting our regional partners to align recourses and provide a positive, dynamic future for the Pacific.
We’re launching a trial of our Investment Thesis this year at SOCAP17 – the Social Capital Markets event held each year in San Francisco. I’ll be attending, along with Pacific RISE partners Criterion Institute and Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation and the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to introduce investors and intermediaries to the exciting future that belongs to the Pacific – with their investment and our ongoing support.