MDF is one of Australia’s flagship private sector development programmes. It stimulates investment, business innovation and regulatory reform to create additional jobs and increase income for poor women and men in rural and urban areas in the Indo-Pacific region.


NKW Fresh: A Fresh approach for farmers in Papua New Guinea
In the remote communities in Wau, Papua New Guinea (PNG), farmers have to carry their crates of tomatoes across fast-flowing rivers and trek down steep, muddy mountains to get their fresh produce to market. MDF has partnered with fresh produce buyer, NKW Fresh, who supports farmers in this region by providing an invaluable collection service for their crops in hard to reach locations. Through the partnership, NKW has recruited Field Extension Officers and armed them with tablets loaded with innovative crop management software to help farmers with crop planning and cultivation practices. This, in turn, will assist farmers to grow a consistent, high quality supply of fresh produce. See the full video here.


The Dili workshop creating opportunities for women
Local artisan workshop, Arte Jeitu, is expanding. As well as creating more of its high-quality handicrafts it is creating jobs for women. Josefina had only recently finished school when she was offered a full-time, salaried contract with Arte Jeitu. Recognising the potential of growth in handicraft sales on female employment, MDF partnered with local retailer Things and Stories. The retailer works closely with the artisan groups like Arte Jeitu to improve quality and increase production. Read more about Josefina’s story.
Closer to home – expanding choices for women in Sri Lanka
Fish processing is making waves in the north of Sri Lanka. New job openings are giving men and women in this area the chance to secure employment locally, opening up options for themselves and their families. Gestica used to be a domestic worker in the Middle East but is now able to work closer to her home in Mannar through MDF’s partnership with Coolman. Read more about Gestica’s story.
Enterprising female silage entrepreneur breaks the glass ceiling in South Punjab
In February, the MDF Pakistan team undertook a comprehensive field visit to South Punjab to study the silage business model, to expand knowledge on how well MDF’s interventions are working in this area. During the trip it was highly encouraging for the team to observe that rural women were experiencing improvements in their lifestyles due to the silage interventions. The nutritious fodder was causing an increase in the animals’ milk yields, which was leading to additional family income. Find out more here.


Field diary – Papua New Guinea’s rural farmers connected to essential banking services
In PNG 75% of the population is unbanked, of which 90% are women. A major barrier to people accessing banking services is that many parts of PNG are disconnected from urban centres where most banks are located, as well as traditional bank products not being accessible for the majority of the population. MDF partner, MiBank connects rural farmers with innovative banking services in regions where there is limited infrastructure. This photo essay shares some of the challenges faced by people having basic access to their money and how MiBank is transforming access to these services.


The doll makers of Ataúro island
Timor-Leste’s pioneering handicraft co-operative, Boneca de Ataúro is expanding. In partnership with MDF, the decade-old women’s co-operative is innovating to develop new products and opening its first retail store in in the capital, Dili. The end goal is more jobs; including jobs for men to build a new workshop, jobs for the suppliers of raw materials and increased incomes for the existing members. Already an influential group on the island the co-operative is not just sustaining families but is raising the status of women on Ataúro. View the full photo essay here.





In February, MDF Fiji commemorated the one-year anniversary of Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston (TCW) with a series of communication pieces highlighting the work that has been undertaken with its partners and some of their beneficiaries that were badly affected by the disaster.

In the aftermath of the cyclone the private sector had to find ways to rebuild and look at integrating long-term resilience into their business models. Businesses in tourism and horticulture were severely affected and the livelihoods of many communities were at stake. In this video, see how MDF has been an integral part of this process for its private sector partners.

A shortage of planting materials has been an ongoing issue for farmers in Fiji but this was exacerbated by the cyclone. Local company, Biotec Limited believes it has the means to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of planting materials that will enable farmers to not only meet their export and local demands but also plant all year-round. Read more here.

Devesh and Bharos Farms (DBF), a large commercial nursery in Nadi, is a key supplier of seedlings to farmers as part of the national recovery efforts following TCW. Through MDF’s assistance, DBF has invested in two 40-foot container pods to store seedlings and planting materials during natural disasters. Click here to see the converted container pods.

Miri Tamana hails from a long line of tapa artisans from the village of Nabukadra in Ra. Miri and the women of the village are suppliers of contemporary masi crafts to Rise Beyond the Reef who have been working with the women following TC Winston. Read here about how the ancient skills that these women possess are providing a new lifeline for them and their families.



Strong showing at the Pakistan Mega Leather Expo
In January, MDF pledged its continued presence with assisting private sector organisations to produce finished leather goods at the Pakistan Mega Leather Expo at the International Expo Centre in Lahore. MDF is looking to expand the number of partners that it has in the finished leather sector. Check out the details here.
DHL launches new Business Services Centre in Suva
International express services provider, DHL Express (Fiji) Ltd (DHL), launched their new Business Services Centre at their office in Raiwaqa. MDF has co-invested with DHL in modern technology and relevant staff training to enhance overall service delivery of the Business Process Outsourcing services that will be offered in the centre. Read the full story here.
Poverty and gender from the highlands to the islands of Papua New Guinea From secret money stashed in walls, to an abundance of intricate shell money and huge stone axes stored safely in cupboards, MDF’s poverty and gender study in PNG has unearthed some interesting insights into the inner workings of the PNG household. The research goes beyond a purely statistical view of poverty and takes a more in-depth qualitative look in order to seek a stronger and more nuanced understanding of who is poor and why. Find out how the intensive study was conducted and get some early findings from the research here.
Huge crowds flock to MDF at Dawn Pakistan Food and Agri Expo
The MDF team enthusiastically took part in the Dawn Pakistan Food and Agri Expo 2017. During the two-day event, six MDF partners from the Dairy, Meat and Horticulture engagement areas showcased their work and the MDF stalls drew huge crowds. For the first time since the inception of the expo, MDF Pakistan explained its market systems approach. See photos from the Dawn Expo here.



MDF Sri Lanka launches
In March, MDF Sri Lanka held its official launch. Hosted by the Australian High Commission and the Sri Lankan Ministry of Tourism Development, the highlight of the event was the signing of a subsidiary arrangement between the Ministry and the High Commission. Read the full story here.
Event to mark the first salt export in Timor-Leste
Salt producer NPM Industries shipped its first container of packaged salt from Timor-Leste in February. NPM Industries marked the occasion with an event at its storage facility in the Municipality of Liquica. The container is the first of monthly shipments to Singapore sourced from a local women's cooperative. MDF has partnered with NPM Industries to boost self-sufficiency in every day consumables and help build an export base for the future. Read more here.


The apprentice sewers of Mahanaim Garment Factory have finished a 12-week training programme with many offered full-time contracts. This marks the start of production in Timor-Leste’s first garment factory. MDF's partnership with the factory is to develop its workforce and build skills in pattern-making and design. The new industry presents an opportunity to replace imports of clothing and create jobs in an emerging private sector. See the pictures here.
The first meeting of destination Suva stakeholders featured both in the Fiji Sun and the Fiji Times which ran two stories on moves to form a destination marketing organisation for Suva. The Fiji Times also ran an article on the MDF Fiji Enterprise Engine in its business section in February.

  • Keep watching this space.

MDF stimulates investment, business innovation and regulatory reform to create additional jobs and increase income for poor women and men in rural and urban areas in the Indo-Pacific region.

MDF is supported by the Australian Government and managed by Cardno.

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Market Development Facility · Fiji · Timor-Leste, Pakistan Sri Lanka · Papua New Guinea

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