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.


The life of prawns
This short documentary transports the viewer from prawn nurseries in the arid Northern province of Sri Lanka to swanky restaurants in the capital, Colombo. Follow the journey of the giant freshwater prawn, harvested by fisher communities in the North and exported by MDF's partner, Divron. Divron's work ensures sustainable, high-income livelihoods for these fishers, as well as a high-value addition to Sri Lanka's export earnings.


Education a priority for Shakuntala
Shakuntala works processing fruit and vegetables for MDF partner Labasa Farm Fresh (LFF), Vanua Levu’s only exporter of fresh produce to Australia. Previously a housekeeper, Shakuntala struggled to cover basic needs for her family. Working for Labasa Farm Fresh for the past two years she is now able to ensure that the family can provide an education for their three daughters and save money for when they get married. Read Shakuntala’s story here.
Domingas banks on change: coffee farmers and rural banking in Timor-Leste
The coffation Tuba Rai Metin. The partnership is to open a local Savings Centre and offers financial literacy training in the coffee growing region of Ermera. Early results show women and men, like local kiosk owner, Domingas, are opening accounts and starting to save month to month. Farmers with savings can invest in their crops and increase their yields – as well as be free from the burden of debt. The partnership is part of MDF’s work to create a better business environment in Timor-Leste. Read Domingas’ story here.


It’s a pig’s life in Papua New Guinea
In PNG pigs are a status symbol, used in customary celebrations and most importantly as a valuable income stream. But rearing pigs is hard work and comes at a high cost. MDF is working with local stock feed producer, Central Highlands Feed Mill, to commercialise a cheaper product to sell to local pig farmers. In our latest photo essay, we take a look at the life of these walking piggy banks and the importance of pigs in PNG households.


Fighting drought with prawns
MDF visited the formerly conflict-affected North of Sri Lanka during the height of a debilitating drought. During the trip the team captured the lives of a fishing community that battles the dry conditions and the associated difficulties with sustaining giant prawn production. This is a story of building resilience through sustainable business.




One day ashore in Dili: The impact of cruise ship tourism in Timor-Leste
MDF Timor-Leste is facilitating closer collaboration between government and the private sector to support cruise ship tourism. The facilitation role follows MDF’s 2016 partnership with local tour operator Dive, Trek and Camp. To reinforce the benefits of cruise ship tourism MDF, together with The Asia Foundation, the Office of the Minister of State, Coordinating for Economic Affairs (MECAE) and the Ministry for Tourism, Arts & Culture (MTAC) produced a report on the economic impact of cruise ship tourism. A summary of the findings are presented in this infographic.



Bringing the private sector into the classroom in Timor-Leste
In April, MDF signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Timor-Leste’s national university, UNTL. The MoU gives students the opportunity to learn directly from local business owners through a series of seminars delivered by MDF partners running medium- and large-sized businesses. The MoU follows global best-practice that suggests contextualising education is a critical way for students to learn. The students will learn in Tetum about the opportunities and challenges business owners face in doing business in Timor-Leste. The MoU also gives students the opportunity to develop their skills through work placements with MDF partners. Read more here.
MDF Launches business incubation system
MDF marks eight months since the start of the pilot MDF Fiji Enterprise Engine (FEE) initiative, aimed at improving SMEs’ chances of success in the Fijian and regional economy. The pilot MDF FEE was attended by 10 SMEs, out of which four were women-led businesses and five were indigenous Fijian-owned businesses. MDF FEE will continue for another year in its current format before taking on new SMEs in the new fiscal year. Read more here.
Bringing the art of beekeeping back to the highlands
In PNG we take a look at how technical honeybee specialist Cooper Schouten made great inroads in his three-month engagement with New Guinea Fruits (NGF), working collaboratively with the NGF Field Extension Officers. To help combat a lack of raw honey, Cooper created contextualised training on modern beekeeping techniques and hive management to help farmers improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of beekeeping enterprises. Find out more about his time in the heart of highlands honey country in our latest blog.
Influence through dialogue: making connections at cattle markets
In Pakistan recent reforms in cattle markets have increased trading volume. These markets now offer many incentives to cattle farmers by providing logistical support, economical fodder options and veterinary services for animals, as well as offering improved security. However, the private sector’s presence in these markets is still very small. Through a recent stakeholder dialogue, MDF and Lahore Division Cattle Market Management Company – a government operated company, sparked interest within the private sector to increase their investments in cattle markets and explore collaborative opportunities. Read more here.


MDF launches case study on five years of work in Timor-Leste
In June, MDF hosted a panel discussion with five of Timor-Leste’s most successful entrepreneurs at an event in Dili. The event was held to launch MDF’s case study, Kick-Starting Inclusive Growth: Timor-Leste’s Transition to a Post-Conflict, Post-Oil Economy. The case study and the panel discussion were both opportunities to reflect on the success of some businesses in Timor-Leste and the pathway that lead them there. The event was covered by Business Timor and the full case study can be viewed at our microsite.
Business innovation showcase

In May, MDF hosted a Business Innovation Showcase as a platform to showcase its diverse portfolio of private sector partners over the last five years. MDF has cemented itself as a mature programme through its partnerships and is now seeing fundamental changes in market systems starting to take root. The main purpose of the showcase was to engage with stakeholders and showcase successful examples of innovation and partnerships that can stimulate further investments into key growth areas in the economy. Read more here.



PNG | MDF PNG partner in tourism and hospitality has revolutionised the booking process with its brand new website,, that allows you to book traditional accommodation directly with guesthouses and independent hotel owners in remote parts of PNG. Check out more on this huge step forward for local businesses in PNG.
Sri Lanka | Inland aquaculture is playing a vital role in increasing the incomes of Sri Lankan fishers. With MDF’s support, Divron is connecting these communities to high-value export markets for giant freshwater prawn. This clip tells the story in a nutshell.
Fiji | MDF partner Fijika Limited featured in the Fiji Sun at the MDF Fiji Business Innovation Showcase in May. The Fiji Times also featured three articles on the panel discussion on the exports sector at the innovation showcase and the proposed daycare centre being planned by MDF partner Mark One apparel.
PNG | The MDF PNG team hosted a trilateral cruise tourism study where participants from the private sector in Timor-Leste and Indonesia took part in a round table discussion and a trip to Alotau to see how PNG has overcome significant barriers to attract an increasing number of cruise ships to the country. Check out the updates here.


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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