Big Congratulations to the February graduates of our Family Money Management program! Run by dedicated local staff at the Apeketon Business Hub in Lihir, Papua New Guinea, this initiative equips families with essential tools for financial planning, budgeting, and saving.

It's truly inspiring to witness participants taking concrete steps towards their savings goals, paving the way for brighter futures for their families. Empowering communities to thrive begins with imparting financial freedom through knowledge and skills.

This program is in partnership with Lihir Gold Limited (LGL), a subsidiary of Newmont Corporation.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                          

Celebrate International Women's Day with ABV!

Overview:

Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) is hosting 'Conversations across the Pacific,' an online event for International Women's Day. It will be an inspiring afternoon dedicated to recognising the success of women leaders in the Pacific and the profound impact of women supporting each other. 

ABV's CEO, Liz Mackinlay, will guide an engaging 90-minute conversation, where we'll showcase the success stories of three remarkable mentees in the Pacific.

At this event, we will explore this theme of amplifying Pacific women's voices through ABV's innovative programs with BSP Financial Group Limited (formerly Bank of South Pacific) through three stories:

  1. How BSP Fiji YES Thrive program strengthens entrepreneurs in Fiji. 
  2. How BSP YES Grow takes established businesses to the next level in Papua New Guinea.
  3. How the BSP and ABV mentoring program supports and develops talent across BSP's Pacific operations.

Keynote speaker: Leata Alaimoana - Queensland Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner.

As the Queensland Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner, Leata is responsible for driving the Queensland–Pacific trade strategy. Leata is committed to supporting sustainable enterprises and businesses in the Pacific, helping to create economic opportunities and deliver positive social outcomes for communities across the region. Leata's dedication to the Pacific extends beyond her professional work, as she actively supports and advocates for causes that work towards improving the livelihoods of Pacific people. Leata is passionate about empowering Pacific Island communities and ensuring their voices are heard and needs are met in the spaces that matter most.

Moderator: Liz Mackinlay – Australian Business Volunteers, CEO.

"I've been to many events for International Women’s Day where we discuss fantastic ideas, but often they don't translate into action. This year, ABV is all about amplifying the voices of Pacific women. We are uplifting their success and creating stronger connections and more opportunities for Pacific women in business," said Liz Mackinlay. 

Key Takeaways from event:

  1. The Power of Women-Led Businesses and Leadership: Discover how Pacific women drive innovation and business success.
  2. SME Development for Economic Growth: Understand how focusing on small-medium enterprise (SME) and leadership development can contribute to economic growth in the Pacific.
  3. Transformative Community-Wide Benefits: Learn about the positive impacts of encouraging entrepreneurship on families and communities.
  4. Woman-to-Woman Mentorship: Explore the transformative power of volunteering, specifically through woman-to-woman mentorship programs

Event Details:

🔹 Friday, 8th March

🔹 Online Event

🔹 3:00pm – 4:30pm AEDT

Registration link: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/iwd-conversations-across-the-pacific-tickets-817638126647?aff=oddtdtcreator

Online delivery: Due to the global nature of the celebration and to encourage our Pacific networks to join, this event will be hosted virtually.

For more information, please contact:

Moneesha Reynolds, ABV Marketing Manager

E:Moneesha.reynolds@abv.org.au

About Australia Business Volunteers (ABV):

Australia Business Volunteers (ABV) is a leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting business expertise across the Asia-Pacific region. ABV works with a diverse group of organizations to deliver customized, sustainable, and effective solutions.

About BSP Financial Group Limited:

BSP Financial Group Limited is a prominent financial institution in PNG, offering a wide range of banking and financial services. BSP is committed to supporting the financial needs of individuals and businesses across the country.

We warmly welcome Garth James Preece, who has joined ABV as the Program Coordinator for our Western Australia programs.
 
Garth brings six years of experience working in the Western Desert region, previously serving in the community relations department for Newmont Mining. Garth's career demonstrates his dedication to understanding and supporting the local communities. 
 
Initially joining us as a contractor, Garth has shared his enthusiasm for the Martu Business Development Program, "I've very much enjoyed visiting the local communities and learning about Martu culture, art, music and hunting, I look forward to working with Brigitte and the team at ABV and, supporting the Martu program, it will be great to see local peoples business visions come to life." 
 
Brigitte White has been promoted to Senior Programs Manager for Western Australia and will be working closely with Garth.
 
Pictured: (left to right) Naomi Toole, Sharon Bieundurry, Brigitte White and Garth James Preece

Meet Emi Weir, one of our inspiring ABV Skilled Volunteers who has donated her expertise for over a decade. Emi's nomadic spirit has led her to new opportunities around the globe—starting in her early twenties, she moved to New York, where she sold tour packages for Aus Travel. Although challenging, she found solo travelling a fulfilling experience; she says, "I went to New York without any plan, but I think my Australian accent and confidence secured me the job, and I loved it." Over her career, Emi appreciated flexibility to follow her own path, "When I asked to for time off to go backpacking, they said yes, and when I came back, and I was promoted to set up the national operation."

In 2014, in search of a new challenge, Emi travelled to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. Vientiane is known for its relaxed vibe and Buddhist temples along tree-lined boulevards on the banks of the Mekong River. Shortly after her arrival, Emi was asked to support the business operations of the Laos Disabled Women's (LDW) Centre through Australian Business Volunteers (ABV).

In groups of 30, women with disabilities would join the LDW Centre for nine months, building confidence and life skills. A lot of the women were victims of the Polio virus, which, if not treated properly, can result in paralysis. "These women faced great challenges—many were denied schooling and weren't accepted in their villages. They came to the Centre and saw girls who were like them and who were happy to be like them. Seeing their transformation was a deeply moving experience."

The women were employed to craft items from recycled paper, like earrings and bracelets, to be sold in the Centre's shop. With Emi's background in tourism, she realised the promising prospects of the Centre being near the famous 'Friendship Bridge' that connects to Thailand. Emi established partnerships with tour companies to incorporate the Centre into their itineraries, bringing in busloads of visitors. Over the next decade, the Centre evolved from a small initiative into a thriving enterprise and, to this day, operates, now offering tours and paper crafting workshops.

Above: Paper crafting at the LDW Centre, Emi Holding Earrings 2014.

In 2016, Emi relocated to Savannakhet—a province in southern Laos. She started another ABV assignment to write a business plan for Sengsavang, a versatile establishment housing a restaurant, tailoring service, and hairdressing facility. "Local factory workers would take their lunch there and then have their hair washed, which was a popular service, and during wedding season, they'd teach the local girls how to sew." Emi later employed Sengsavang tailors to produce Ikats (a dyed textile) for her business, Ma Té Sai. Emi's business is a social enterprise that proudly follows a "from the village for the village" ethos, co-creating items with village artisans.

Emi pivoted to virtual volunteering in the last few years, and her latest ABV assignment was helping disaster resilience in Southeast NSW by writing a strategic marketing plan for a First Nations organisation and assisting Aruluen Hall with event marketing.

Emi's diverse skill set has been invaluable to ABV over the past decade, and we're profoundly grateful for her expertise. Reflecting on her years with ABV, Emi said, "I love the diversity of what ABV offers; I identify with its spirit of resourcefulness."

LDWD Centre Group photo.

Paper products from LDWD Centre being sold in Singapore.

Do you have the business skills to give back and change lives? Express interest in volunteering with us.

If you have a tourism-related product or tourism investment project for Braidwood and Villages that you are keen to get off the ground, now is your chance to pitch your idea. Up to five tourism or investment projects will be selected to be worked on or progressed. 

Braidwood and Villages Business Chamber (BAVBC) supported by Australian Business Volunteers (ABV) and Enterprise Plus, will be hosting a Tourism Product Development Workshop on Friday the 9th of February.  

We are inviting community members, groups, and businesses to pitch their tourism-related product or tourism investment project. The panel are looking for new products, catalyst projects, or business ideas to support in seven categories: agri tourism; nature tourism; heritage tourism; visitor information, technology and knowledge services; local area/street improvement projects; and creative and cultural tourism. 

This is an incredible opportunity to have a coordinated focus on your idea.  Our Reference Panel is ready to work on this with you. Simply apply on the link below. 

Three to five pitches will be selected to attend the workshop where under the guidance of our experts, will work towards creating a comprehensive project concept and compelling funding proposal. Our aim is to identify and develop the projects in sufficient detail to assist the project in securing funding and resources needed for implementation in the next 12 months.  A list of criteria is included with the application form. 

The Reference Panel includes members of the Braidwood and Villages Tourism and Investment working group, QPRC, Braidwood and Villages Tourism, Enterprise Plus, Braidwood Community Association, and other invited guests including ABV Volunteer Professor Brian Roberts (Emeritus Professor of Urban and Regional Economic Development) with extensive international experience in over 30 countries, and from the University of Canberra, Associate Professor Brian Weir specialising in Tourism and Events.    

The community has been working on a vision for our local area for some time which identified the need for coordinated tourism initiatives. As the Braidwood and Villages Destination Management Plan formalises and develops, you can expect more of these kinds of workshops, as we aim to provide the tools to develop the Braidwood and Villages business community to its full potential.  

Pitch applications will be received until Monday 5th February, 9am AEDT via the below link. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C37TG3T 

Successful applicants will be invited to attend the event to explain their idea. 

The workshop will be held Friday 9th February and will include lunch and morning team. 

For more information, please visit BAVBC Website

 
This project is being facilitated by Australian Business Volunteers and is funded by the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF) which is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments. 

ABV proudly announces the appointment of Helen Conway as Board Chair, bringing a distinguished career spanning legal, corporate, and not-for-profit sectors. Helen's wealth of experience and deep commitment to community, diversity, and inclusion make her an outstanding addition to ABV's esteemed board.

Helen Conway expresses "I'm looking forward to working with the Board, management, and the team to extend ABV's reach. The organization's unique business model, built on collaboration with skilled volunteers, is more critical than ever. ABV's track record of building resilience and sustained economic benefit for communities facing challenges is vital work, and I'm committed to its success."

A highly regarded leader and former CEO of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Helen has spent a decade in legal practice and 18 years in the corporate sector. Her diverse directorships in health, transport, and superannuation sectors showcase her commitment to community service, fairness, and inclusion.

Liz Mackinlay, CEO of ABV, expresses excitement about Helen's appointment: "I’m delighted that Helen has taken on the ABV Board Chair role. ABV seeks to innovate, and Helen’s experience across corporate, government, and the not-for-profit sector will be a crucial support as we implement our new strategy. Her commitment to positive change aligns seamlessly with our mission, and we are confident that her leadership will further strengthen our impact."

Ranjana Malti manages 'Nature's Finest' from her family farm in Dilkusha, Nausori, on Fiji’s largest island, Viti Levu. Nausori is next to the Rewa River, Fiji's widest and longest river, which provides a gentle cooling breeze most days. Malti's day begins at 6 am, tending to her chickens, and she continues tirelessly packing and making deliveries, often not stopping until her children are home from school in the afternoon.

Image: New kids arrive at the farm.

In 2023, Malti joined Fiji THRIVE, a joint local business development program by Australian Business Volunteers and the Bank of South Pacific, Fiji. Malti was frustrated that there never seemed to be enough hours in the day. ABV mentors Kaylene Benson and Shean Gannon encouraged Malti to step back from the whirlwind and look for simple efficiencies, for example, making deliveries on two days instead of five. Since this change, she has more freedom and is already on her next endeavour—producing natural milk-based cosmetics from the goats she recently purchased.

The star of Nature's Finest is their exceptional honey. What began with a small loan from her mother-in-law and four hives has burgeoned into a thousand in just over a decade. The dry climates of Sigatoka and Nausori provide the ideal conditions for their hives; excessive rainfall can hinder bees from foraging on flowers, leading them to overconsume their own honey. Recently, she made a life-altering discovery: she has a severe bee allergy. Reflecting on the past decade, she considers herself incredibly fortunate to have avoided a reaction. 

In 2020, with her husband now managing the hives, Malti bought a hundred retired chickens in a post-COVID sale at a price of three birds for $15. Over three years, she has grown this flock to a staggering six-hundred and eighty, which she solely manages alongside her flock of ducks.

Image: Nature's Finest Honey Logo.

Image: Nature's Finest Honey Logo.

Despite her accomplishments, Malti is humble, acknowledging that she still feels like "one-quarter of an expert," continually learning from fellow farmers and online resources. She has streamlined egg production through self-teaching and trial and error, learning when and how the best laying happens.

A common request in mentoring with ABV is how businesses can determine their actual costs and create a sustainable profit. Malti needed help finding a costing system that accurately reflects the quality of her products while maintaining affordability, which she now has the financial tools to do.

When we asked Malti how she's managed to keep expanding her business year after year despite setbacks, she said, "I can make something out of anything."

Image: Cows gazing on the farm paddocks.

Image: Ranjana's team working on the land.

The ABV team were fortunate enough to be on Martu country throughout December supporting Newmont Australia Telfer with their Christmas celebrations. Newmont Telfer holds yearly festive events for Martu communities with plenty of food and a special visit from Santa to deliver presents to local schools.

A dedicated team wrapped over 500 presents for delivery to the Parnngurr, Warralong, Nullagine and Marble Bar communities. Most days soar above 45 degrees this time of year, and there can be 5–10 hour long drives between each town. It can be challenging working in this climate, but it was ultimately an enriching experience for our team. 


Thank you to the team at Newmont Telfer, Daniel Tincknell, Emily Siviour, Demi OkelySabino Andriani, and Garth James Preece, who were part of making this possible. The ABV team shared how fortunate they feel to have been part of the journey with Newmont Telfer and on Martu Country. We look forward to all the exciting possibilities for this program in 2024!

Our Skilled Volunteers, Liz Reece and Tamara Dytor, made the most of their time in Papua New Guinea. They immersed themselves in the experience of volunteering overseas, taking the opportunity to join in with the local culture before facilitating the Your Enterprise Scheme (YES) Program—helping local entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their skills for business success. "The YES course participants were a delight to work with, nutting out the local challenges and best business models together," said Liz. 

Liz has volunteered for ABV since 2015, so she was the perfect partner to help Tamara feel comfortable on her first assignment. Volunteering overseas can seem intimidating, but you can feel safe and confident with local guidance and the support of your volunteer buddy.

Reflecting on the trip, Tamara shared she feels grateful for the opportunity to learn from Liz, the Apeketon team and the course participants, "It was wonderful to exchange knowledge and be part of something truly unique. I'm looking forward to my next role with ABV."

Are you feeling inspired to give back? It's a new year of possibilities, and countless opportunities with us need your business skills! Whether it's volunteering locally or abroad, your contribution matters. Take the first step today by expressing your interest in volunteering with us at Volunteer - Australian Business Volunteers (abv.org.au)

Our partner, Newmont, supports this program and the Apeketon Business Hub.

The island nation of Nauru is nestled in the centre of coral cliffs surrounded by rock phosphates—striking peaks that emerge from the clear water. With this backdrop, Christmas celebrations vibrantly decorate and complement the beautiful landscape.

In December, you will see brightly coloured lights dotted around the island, illuminating households and hanging among the pandanus and coconut trees. Most Nauruans follow Christianity and attend church services to mark the special significance of this time. Being a small place (around 13,000 residents), the island operates with a lot of community spirit, sharing responsibility for cooking, visiting elderly residents, and caring for children.

It is common for families to wear brightly coloured (sparkling or floral, sometimes matching!) outfits in red, green and white Christmas themes and adorn headdresses with flowers like frangipani. Celebrations are hosted in venues decorated with tinsel, lights, colourful fabrics, palms and plants, where groups perform in the spirit of entertainment or for a friendly competition.

Songs like Joy to the World, Silent Night, and Glad Tidings are usually heard throughout the air when you drive around the island, as Christmas carols are very popular in Nauru. Christmas is one of the seasons that the older relatives are visited with songs and gifts, usually organised by various church communities, these includes youth and young children at the forefront singing.

Christmas feasts might include roasted whole pork, BBQ black noddy bird, and coconut fish (sashimi mixed with coconut cream and lime juice), a specialty dish as coconut grows well in the tropical climate, and the fishing industry is a core part of Nauru. Families each take some cooking responsibility, serving and sharing delicious foods.

We are fortunate that one of our team members, Jennifer Harris, shared some images for this post of Nauru’s celebrations. "You can feel the happiness in the air," she says, "driving around the island is a real treat on Christmas, and I get so much joy from the children loving this time of year.

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