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.


What can be achieved in Women’s Economic Empowerment?
Smaller pesticide sprayers that are easier for women to handle, an employer-funded, on-site child care centre and a women-only work line in a footwear factory. These are just a few examples of MDF’s achievements in women’s economic empowerment (WEE) as outlined in the case study: ‘What can be achieved in Women’s Economic Empowerment? Early lessons and examples from operationalising a Women’s Economic Empowerment Framework in a multi-country context.’ Read the report here.


Mari works to put her daughter through school, one coconut at a time.
43-year-old Mari Vodre is a single mother employed as a process worker with MDF Vanua Levu partner, Fijika Natural Products at their virgin coconut oil processing facility in Labasa. Read more in this photo essay.
“The market is here. They come to us.”
Farmers benefit as Timor-Leste supermarket, Kmanek, sets-up collection centres in the Municipality of Bobonaro. A collection centre is a place where farmers in the area can come to sell their fruit and vegetables. Running for more than six months now, the four centres and pick-up points are having a positive impact on farmers' incomes. Having a regular buyer in the area means farmers can grow more and, importantly, know what to grow. Without a market, production in Timor-Leste is kept low as the costs of inputs are so high and farmers have no financial buffer to take risks. See the full story on Exposure here


When two thousand tourists cruise into Alotau
The PNG team hosted visitors from the private sector in Timor-Leste and Indonesia as part of a trilateral cruise tourism study. The weeklong trip took the participants to Alotau, a coastal region in Milne Bay province, to see how cruise tourism has grown and how the sector has navigated significant hurdles to encourage further ships to dock on their shores. Get an overview of how the sector works and what the participants took away with them in our latest photo essay. And check out some of the participants take aways in our short video.



System Change in the fodder market for smallholder farmers in Pakistan
This cases study showcases MDF’s journey in piloting, and taking to scale innovative business models in silage production and distribution, which are greatly increasing milk yields, and significantly impacting livelihoods, of poor farmers in Pakistan. It aims to provide key insights, lessons learned and guidelines on what it takes to trigger lasting systemic change in large and well-established economies. To find out more about the ‘sweet spot’ for market development interventions (silage in this case) read the case study here.



A closer look at Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste’s business environment is unique. The country is recovering from conflict and the economy has been strongly influenced by the oil and gas industry. Kick-starting the private sector is a strategic focus of the government and MDF alike. It’s a challenging business environment, and the barriers for businesses are many. Despite this, in the last five years, MDF has forged partnerships which are productive and support pro-poor growth. This short video explains how MDF is working in Timor-Leste and what it has achieved. Watch here
MDF Pakistan carried out research in the leather, textiles and pharmaceutical manufacturing sectors, to understand what is the business rationale for employing women, what constraints are faced by entities in hiring women, and how have some companies, including MDF partners, successfully addressed those challenges. This video summarizes the research in a nutshell.


The team supported the Australian High Commission when they hosted a visit to PNG by the Secretary for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Martin Parkinson. As part of the visit to the Highlands region the delegation visited MDF partner, New Guinea Fruits. Find out more here.


From scoping to systemic change. How MDF cherry picks its partnerships
Ever wondered what goes on behind the partnerships? The sector scoping, the field trips, the delays, the false leads? Our latest blog from PNG about the tourism and hospitality engagement area takes a look at why these processes take time and what interesting, and important, insights are found along the way.
Bringing Digital Innovation in Gilgit, Baltistan.
Expanding its digital footprint to the far-flung and underserved areas of the country, Telenor Pakistan, in collaboration with MDF, has launched its mobile agriculture advisory service ‘Khushaal Zamindaar’ in Gilgit-Baltistan. the service provides localised, contextualised and customised information, including weather forecasts, timely agronomic and livestock advisory services through SMS and robo calls to help increase crop yield, reduce post-harvest losses, safeguard nutrition and better manage adverse climatic effects and natural resources. the launch was covered in the Pakistan Observer.
World Tourism Day
World Tourism Day, held on 27 September, was celebrated under the theme of ‘Sustainable Development – a Tool for Development’. 2017 is also the International Year for Sustainable Development. Celebrations are centred on the idea that tourism can contribute to all three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental – as well as each of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Supported by the Australian government, MDF’s tourism initiatives are evidence of this. In Fiji, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka, MDF supports businesses that focus on developing innovative, sustainable tourist attractions and activities that put their destinations on the map while also offering valuable jobs and incomes to the communities in which they work. Find out more how MDF supports tourism partners and the impact they have had.
International Rural Women’s Day
International Rural Women’s Day was celebrated globally on 15 October. MDF Timor-Leste, Fiji, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and Pakistan featured partnerships which support rural women by giving access to information and training, access to better inputs and new knowledge on farming practices, and allowing for innovation within the female-dominated handicraft industry. Read more here.


Influencing and Engagement Events: Women@Work
Two Influencing and Engagement Events titled Women@Work were held to discuss the findings of the above research. The Australian High Commission, Karachi Chamber of Commerce, partners, leather, textiles and pharmaceutical sector representtives, businesses who had successfully hired women, representatives from associations, government institutions, NGOs and research organisations attended. Read more here.
Talking inclusive business: MDF and Ceylon Chamber hold joint workshop
In September, MDF Sri Lanka co-hosted a workshop with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce on inclusive business growth. Through three keynote messages and a panel discussion that engaged the audience, the workshop addressed the role of the private sector in bringing about inclusive outcomes. Instead of looking at it from a purely development perspective, the discussion centred on how profit-making can go hand-in-hand with social growth. Read more here.
Community Engagement Study Validation workshop.
MDF Fiji hosted a Community Engagement Research Validation Workshop at Suva’s Albert Park Pavilion on Friday 22 September 2017. The workshop was held to share the research findings with stakeholders who were also invited to share their experiences of working with communities and businesses. Read more here.
MDF participates in Morobe Agricultural Show
In PNG the team participated in the 56th annual Morobe Agricultural Show in Lae. The event is one of the largest in the country and showcases agri-businesses and farmers, including manufacturing and support services, such as hardware, machinery and financial services .MDF hosted a space in the Australian High Commission pavilion where four of its current partnerships showcased their services. Find out more about the partners that featured and highlights from the event in our social posts.
Coffee Quality Competition Launched in Timor-Leste
The 2017 coffee quality competition was launched at an event in Dili in August. The competition was organised by the National Coffee Association (ACTL) to increase coffee quality and promote export of Timor-Leste’s specialty coffee. At the event, coffee producers officially presented their samples for judging and barristers demonstrated ‘cupping’ or the testing process. The competition will culminate with the finalists judged and winner announced at the second annual Festival Kafe Timor to be held in October. MDF has partnered with ACTL to create a cupping laboratory for farmers to come and test their coffee and to promote coordination and promotion of coffee and stakeholders in the sector. See photos here.


Sri Lanka | MDF Sri Lanka participated in the SAARC Investment Forum 2017, with Country Representative Shahroz Jalil part of a panel discussion on the investment outlook for South Asia. Read more here.
Pakistan | MDF Pakistan was featured in a study conducted by the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development. The study was titled “Women’s Economic Empowerment and Agribusiness: Opportunities for the Gender Transformative Agenda” and included methodology and examples from 16 projects of eight agencies. It highlighted the following aspects of the MDF program: WEE knowledge is embedded within the team and Results Measurement System; there is a proper strategy and mainstreaming and additional funding (Gender Equality Fund at the time of study) in place; and, engagement with the private sector on the basis of business incentives and commercially viable business models rather than targets. Read more about it at the Practitioner Hub.
PNG | Country Representative, Christian Portal was featured at the Financial Inclusion Innovation Summit in Port Moresby in PNG. Hosted by the Bank of Papua New Guinea, the event brought together up to 200 participants from across the region and beyond to discuss and debate pertinent issues impacting financial inclusion in the region. See the news here.
Fiji | MDF Fiji featured quite prominently in the media in September and October. The Fiji Times published three full page Faces of Pro-Poor Growth features on Labasa Farm Fresh, Fijika Natural Products and Devesh and Bharos Farms. The Community Engagement Research Validation Workshop in September was also featured.
Sri Lanka | MDF’s joint workshop with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was featured in Ceylon Today, with an excerpt from country Represnetative, Shahroz Jailil’s discussion. The workshop was also covered in detail.
None available at this stage but keep looking at 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 implemented by the Australian Government and managed by The Palladium Group.

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

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