Business leaders encouraged to cooperate more for economic gain
A pilot project is underway in four Pacific countries funded by the European Union to promote economic growth through businesses working more cooperatively in clusters.
The head of the Pacific Islands Private Sector Organisation says business leaders need to change their thinking about competitors and work better together to increase export opportunities.
Mereia Volavola told Jenny Meyer a recent meeting of business leaders from Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu held in Fiji and funded by the European Union, highlighted the idea of forming business clusters.
MEREIA VOLAVOLA; The meeting was how we're going to coordinate and what are the strategies that they need to put in place. And how are we going to form a cluster group in each of those countries. Who are the key people to drive those initiatives. So those are the kinds of things that we discussed at the meeting.
JENNY MEYER; And in terms of local people and what they might see happen as a result of a meeting like this, will they notice any difference?
MV; The local people are engaged. These country teams they engage local expertise because they need to also be involved and likewise our local private sector organisations. You have various businesses and other companies that are in the country that they will use for their services.
JM; And is the main drive exports or what's the idea there?
MV; Yes, that's the whole purpose really. If they could increase exports or even double. And the key question is what is stopping them from doing that? And we're looking at all the barriers that are stopping them, how we can resolve that and within that same locality.
For example; we receive quite a number of requests from overseas importers wanting to import bulk, a lot of containers of coconut virgin oil. But if we give it to one company, production is small. So with the cluster project you can get a number of companies to get together to supply the quantity that is requested by the importer. Similarly if they are wanting to import raw material for their production, again a small company won't be able to do that because of the minimum requirement of a container, they may not need a container. So when they get together with a number of producers in that locality, they will be able to order bulk for their raw materials.
And also in terms of operating at local level, in the Pacific there's a lot of similar businesses operating in the same locality. And what is being undertaken in this project, is businesses to change their way of thinking. Rather than seeing the same business as a competitor they can see or they can form alliances with them where they will be able to increase their business opportunities in a better way.
JM; So it's getting away from competition and moving more towards cooperating with eachother, is that what you're saying?
MV; Yes, yes so with your competitors you don't shy away from or you totally ignore them; but such would be that it would be more beneficial if you would learn to cooperate and work with them.
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