Creative Energy Flows to Seafood Sector in South Pacific

National Geographic
  • Monica Jain
  • December 6, 2016

“If you had the opportunity to generate income for a whole island, what would you do?”

That’s how Lili Kawaguchi opened her pitch during the closing session of Fish 2.0’s Pacific Islands business development workshop. The question grabbed the audience’s attention, as did the rest of the Tongan entrepreneur’s pitch for her seaweed products startup. But it’s a pitch she wouldn’t have made two days earlier, at the start of the workshop.

Lili was one of 25 entrepreneurs from across the Pacific—Fiji, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru, Cook Islands, Niue, and Kiribati—who attended the Nov. 8–10 workshop in Suva, Fiji.

They showed that there is plenty of entrepreneurial energy around the seafood sector in the Pacific Islands, along with a growing sense of possibility. A number of workshop participants already operate successful businesses in other fields, and see compelling new opportunities in the seafood sector. These people have business knowledge—what they need is coaching on how and what to communicate to investors.

Learning to Speak Investor

None of the participants, even those who already had developed other successful ventures , had ever pitched to investors. That’s typical of seafood entrepreneurs around the world. Unless their business has been incubated in an accelerator (a rarity in the seafood industry), people don’t learn how to communicate effectively with investors. The free three-day Fish 2.0 workshop, which we will adapt for each region and hold four times early next year in New England, Southeast Asia, Chile, and on the US West Coast, provides that crucial training, as well as guidance on succeeding in the 2017 Fish 2.0 business competition.

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