5 Characteristics of the Pacific Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

When I think of the word Entrepreneur my mind immediately pulls up the image of Elon Musk with his thinning hair in his early Paypal days. Or old footages of Jeff Bezos in his garage selling books online under his home-made banner with Amazon written across it.

I often wonder about the state of entrepreneurship in the Pacific. How far behind are we from the Western world in terms of innovations in business and technology?

A couple of months ago a LinkedIn connection of mine shared a report that the Pacific Digital Economic Programme (PDEP) released on the state of affairs of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Pacific region.

It was incredibly insightful!

I thought I would highlight some characteristics of the current entrepreneurship ecosystem that I found interesting here. Hopefully it will pique your interest enough for you to take a venture and read the full report.

Mind you there were 12 characteristics in total in the report so if you’re interested in reading the rest then click here to download the report!

In no particular order, here are some facets of the pacific entrepreneurship system.

5 Key Characteristics

Limited Access to information

The report found that the first obstacle that new entrepreneurs face is the lack of access to vital information. If your idea is a vehicle and information is gas, then it would be like buying a car from the lot and pushing it home because it can’t start!

Entrepreneurs need guidance. They need to know how to register businesses, where to go for loans, how to even qualify for loans.

Existing services are sporadic

The data collected in this report indicated that the existing support systems, ie. Entrepreneurship Support Organizations (ESOs), are dependent on donorships and aren’t financially sustainable in the long-term. This means that these organizations may lack the ability to provide consistent support for entrepreneurs throughout their journey.

This lack of support could mean the death to a lot of ventures out there!

Inaccessibility to finance

The sad truth is that most budding entrepreneurs have vision and the drive to create products and services that could address gaps in the current market. What they lack are funds. The report found that without significant collateral, a proven business model, and clean financial records, access to commercial financing – ie. banks – is impossible. This leads to entrepreneurs relying on social group funding from families and friends.

This particular issue can be linked back to the inaccessibility to information that currently plagues the ecosystem.

Entrepreneurship not seen in a positive light

Entrepreneurship, in the minds of conservative Pasifika, is seen as a last resort for school dropouts and a means to an end for employment in-betweeners. Stark contrast from the entrepreneurial spirit that encompasses the very fabric of the United States of America.

To be fair there is evidence of a slow paradigm shift underway. Could more be done to educate and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit throughout the Pacific? Yes!

Entrepreneurs struggle to survive downturns

It was found that most start-ups in the Pacific are at the mercy of downturns induced by natural disasters and political instability! Business risks are extremely high in the region due to these factors.

Currently, there aren’t any services that could mitigate these risks.

Takeaways and opinions?

As I’ve mentioned before, there are more findings from this report but these characteristics were thought-provoking for me. What did I take away from the list above?

  • Information accessibility is still an issue. When a kid in the interior of an isolated island has the ability to obtain information on how to successfully run a business, then we’re getting somewhere.
  • There is still a need for collaboration between stakeholders of all levels. From regional bodies to the localized social entrepreneur, there needs to be avenues for everyone to communicate.
  • Solving the inaccessibility to financing in the region could be the toughest task of all. I am no economist or banker but I am sure that if enough minds are put on this there’s bound to be a solution. Great space for a problem-solver entrepreneur to shine though.
  • Mindset shift! Entrepreneurship needs an extreme makeover psychologically. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are but the latest of a long line of rockstar entrepreneurs who have glamorized the game of hustle and flow. We need to emulate their examples and promote examples of our own! Find the Pasifika’s answer to Steve Jobs.
  • With the unpredictability of the region’s climate – political and geographical – a risk management service that focuses on these factors is required. Essential in every way!

Now I’m not all “doom and gloom”! I sincerely believe that we’re on the right track. There is evidence abound of progress in every country. Can we do more to push the work even further? Yes!

I’m sure you’ve heard American economists state that “small business” is the backbone of their economy. I’d love that to be the case for the Pacific.

Imagine that each entrepreneur is a piece of firewood. Wouldn’t it be great to nurture each entrepreneur until they’re able to sustain themselves AND support another? After a while you’ll have yourself a glorious bonfire that could last through a cold dark night. That’s what I hope for. What about you?

To end, I thought I’d leave you with some reflective questions. Let me know what your answers are!

What are your thoughts about the characteristics and the observations listed above?

A better question would be – How would you address these issues if you had the power to?

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