RELEASE: E-commerce grants, tailored coaching and a Community of Practice following PIF regional training for Pacific businesses

Media Releases and News
18 March 2024

Eight E-commerce grants of up to 5,000 EUR will be awarded for successful applicants following PIFS E-commerce training course uniting Pacific entrepreneurs from Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and from the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) last week

Aligned with the Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy and Roadmap and implemented by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the course aimed to empower businesses to thrive in the digital age. During the workshop, around, 119 entrepreneurs took the opportunity to discuss their visions for digital business in the Pacific, sharing insights and addressing misconceptions.

Dalida Borlasa from Yumi Up, a Vanuatu startup focussing on recycling services, said, “I found the E-commerce workshop very valuable because it taught me to create good relationships with customers who interact with my business online. I believe that the course will help me move forward with my business goals”.

Conducted simultaneously in Samoa, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu in January 2024, the course leveraged technology for cross-border engagement. Live demonstrations by Pacific service providers, including Vodafone or Maua App, also enhanced the practical learning experience.

The pivotal E-commerce training workshop was extended to the four states of FSM from 13 to 15 March. Among the FSM participants was Norleen Oliver, owner of Hard Rock Sokehs a general merchandise store, commended the quality of the training content and added, ‘The materials/tools provided were appropriate to the different audience of the workshop given that we are all starting from different levels whether one has some experience in venturing out into e-commerce or just simply starting out.  I have truly enjoyed engaging in meaningful conversations with the other participants and have also learned a great deal from them. 

Reflecting on the workshop’s success, Marc Gerard, E-commerce trainer in Vanuatu, commented, “Most of the Pacific Islands are barely starting their digital transformation. Business opportunities are massive. Being an entrepreneur today in this context is exciting indeed, despite facing issues such as limited connectivity or payment solutions.”

Zarak Khan, PIFS Director of Programmes and Initiatives, says the rising demand for e-commerce training is demonstrating the growth of this sector across the region.

“The Pacific Regional E-commerce Strategy aims to elevate our entrepreneurs, and this workshop is one of the practical initiatives to achieve that goal.”

Post-workshop, all participants have the opportunity to apply for grants up to EUR 5,000, with two grants available in each country – Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Samoa, and FSM grant winners will receive coaching and ongoing support from the E-commerce experts. Regional support, though, does not end here. 

The training programs have led to the creation of an online Community of Practice providing Pacific entrepreneurs with access to training material, resources, information, direct support from mentors and network support.