Samoa eligible for Qatar green growth funding

The Qatar Fund for Development will give local businesses the opportunities to apply for seed grants of up to US$5,000 or loans to foster environmentally-friendly businesses in the Pacific.

Roshika R. Gaunder, associate with the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network that launched its call for applications on 4 August 2021, told the Samoa Observer that Qatar has provided US$2,475,000 for the three-year project.

"The response from Samoa was good and 23 participants registered for the event and was attended by 10 participants from Samoa," said Ms. Gaunder.

Among the Samoa participants was Vaitulia Alatina Ioelu, the Chief Executive Officer of Samoa Business Hub. 

Mr. Vaitulia was part of the panel discussion on: "What is the future for green entrepreneurship in the Pacific?". 

He spoke on the fact that green entrepreneurship is the Pacific way but that there is currently a lack of awareness of the concept. 

He noted that green entrepreneurship is having a mission of social and environmental impact and help businesses both learn how they can adapt to implement changes and also how to access funding to make their businesses more environmentally and socially impactful.

Vaitulia explained that a united front is needed across government, private sector and development partners to build awareness of the concept of green entrepreneurship. 

He also said that comprehensive entrepreneurship programs are needed which include green entrepreneurship as an integral part, and that a network (such as P.G.E.N.) is helpful for knowledge-sharing and should be sustainable to continue.

More than 250 people attended the virtual launch.

James Atherton with Samoa Green Products Ltd said he was notified of the funding and plans to take a closer look at the opportunity. 

He was contacted by the Samoa Observer on Thursday, a day after the call for applications was officially launched, for comment.

“I did see something about it from Fiji. I haven't looked at it ...but I will have to take a look at the criteria,” he said.

Samoa Green Products is the country’s first plate and cutlery business that launched in 2019 ahead of the Pacific Games hosted by Samoa.

With his cousin Alan Schwalger, Mr. Atherton introduced a line of dishes and cutlery made from Samoan palm leaves. 

Their products recycle natural material from palm trees; are reusable, and because they can be added to compost, their dishes and other products reduce landfill waste.

“We are not doing anything to add to pollution, if anything we are reducing it because we are using something that would be wasted and replacing a product that causes damage,” Mr. Atherton said in 2019.

“But we have got to move away from single use anything. It’s so wasteful, when by reusing we could cut down our waste massively.”

Samoa Business Hub issued a notice about the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network early this week.

The three-year project is implemented by the Global Green Growth Institute, based in Fiji, and funded by Qatar.

The Network offers two programs: an annual incubation program and an accelerator program targeting green and sustainable businesses, particularly led by women and youth.

Samoa is one of six countries where the program is being implemented. Also included in the project are: Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Vanuatu.

“The Pacific Green Entrepreneurship Network has officially launched!,” the Global Green Growth Institute announced in a 4 August 2021 statement published on Twitter.

“We have now opened our Call for Applications for both our Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator and Mentor programs.”

The Global Green Growth Institute believes that green entrepreneurs are "uniquely positioned as drivers of innovation, holding the keys to unlocking a transition to a green and sustainable future for our planet." 

The project is targeting about 20 entrepreneurs from Samoa to join the incubator program.

Applications for the incubator and mentor programs close on 31 August.

Interested parties can apply at pacificgreenpreneurs.com.

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