Four participants of the Tonga cohort of the 2023 Pacific Greenpreneurs Program graduated today, with two recipients also being awarded total funds of USD$55,000 (approximately TOP $130,000) at the official Graduation ceremony held at the Davina House. The Guest of Honour for the event was Ms. Lorraine Kauhenga, Deputy CEO for the Ministry of Trade & Economic Development’s Trade Negotiation & Policy Division.
Commenting on the success of the program, Ms. Lorraine Kauhenga, Deputy CEO for the Ministry of Trade & Economic Development’s Trade Negotiation & Policy Division said, “The Government of Tonga is supportive of GGGI and QFFD’s Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network contributions to addressing the barriers to green enterprise growth and building Tonga’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The program aligns well with MTED’s objectives towards the achievement of the national economic outcomes.”
Ms Kauhenga also added that, “beyond green enterprises’ positive impact on the environment; MTED applauds PGEN’s focus on supporting green job creation, particularly in increasing opportunities for women and youth.”
Mr. Sam Vea, President of the Tonga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) commended GGGI’s Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN) program. “We recognise the transformative power of green businesses in minimising our national carbon footprint and improving our communities’ resilience to climate change. In a world and particularly us here in the Pacific who are facing the challenges of climate change and shifting weather patterns, nurturing green entrepreneurship is not only timely but also critical to our nation’s economic and sustainable growth,” said Mr. Vea.
The Pacific Greenpreneurs Incubator and Accelerator Program are initiatives of the Pacific Green Entrepreneurs Network (PGEN), a program implemented by Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) and funded by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD), which is dedicated to fostering green, sustainable, and innovative business solutions in the Pacific region.
Mr. Lano Fonua, GGGI Investment Officer – Tonga, delivered remarks on behalf of GGGI’s Country Representative for Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga and Vanuatu, Mr. Daniel Muñoz-Smith. “As we celebrate the achievements of these graduates, let us also reflect on the profound impact their endeavors will have on our environment and communities in responding to the significant challenges of climate change. We commend their passion, resilience, and commitment to a green and sustainable Pacific”, Mr. Fonua said.
Ms. Al-Jazi Al-Hanzab, International Organizations Head Section Representative, spoke on behalf of GGGI’s funding partner, the Qatar Fund for Development. She said in her recorded video remarks, “As we witnessed the announcement of the winners of the incubator business plan competition and the accelerator program, let us remember that these initiatives will contribute to a greener, more sustainable future. Congratulations to all graduates and grant recipients. Your work is an inspiration to us all. I look forward to seeing the positive impacts you will create in your respective countries and beyond.”
The event also featured the announcement of Ms. Luisa Nau, owner of Culture Fusion Tonga as the winner for the Business Plan competition awarded USD $5,000 (approximately TOP $11,900) in recognition of its innovative business model and plans that align with sustainable development goals.
For the first time, one deserving growth-stage green enterprise in Tonga, South Pacific Mozuku Tonga Ltd, was awarded a USD $50,000 (approximately TOP $119,000) zero-interest repayable grant. Mr. Masa Kawaguchi, director of South Pacific Mozuku Ltd, expressed his gratitude towards GGGI and QFFD by saying “despite a few setbacks the business experienced over the past years including the COVID and tsunami, we are ready to move into the new and exciting areas of business expansion and are very much grateful for GGGI’s assistance in this regard.”
In total, USD 55,000 (approximately TOP $130,000) in grants were awarded at the event, bringing the total funds awarded to Tongan enterprises since the commencement of PGEN to USD $75,000 (approximately TOP $178,000) to date.
Ms. Mihwa Wi, GGGI Senior Project Management and Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist congratulated the achievements of the graduates of the incubator and accelerator programs and remarked that “GGGI’s support including financial assistance in the form of seed grant and repayable grant funding to selected Tongan businesses will have significant impact on our environment and communities in responding to climate change and contributing to innovations and inclusive growth.”
Speaking on behalf of the graduating Incubator Greenpreneurs, Ms. Tupou Kolokihakaufisi, founder of Grace Nursery & Garden thanked GGGI and QFFD for their “unwavering support, guided by the utmost wisdom of our Heavenly Father. Your commitment to fostering sustainable entrepreneurship has empowered us to dream bigger and think greener. The emphasis on considering environmental and social impacts has instilled in us a sense of responsibility towards the world we live in. As greenpreneurs, we are not just building businesses; we are contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, shaping a better future for all,” Ms Kolokihakaufisi added.
The Tonga Incubator & Accelerator Greenpreneur graduates are part of the regional Pacific Greenpreneurs alumni, joining green enterprises who have completed the program in Fiji, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.
Photo Caption: Lu’isa Nau of Culture Fusion Tonga (4th from left), winner of the USD $5,000 seed capital grant and Masa Kawaguchi (3rd from right) winner of the USD $50,000 repayable grant. Graduates: Tupou Kolokihakaufisi of Grace Nursery & Garden (2nd from left), and Anaseini Iotebatu of Tini Media (3rd from left). Guest of Honour, Lorraine Kauhenga, Deputy CEO, Trade Negotiation & Policy Division MTED (centre), Sam Vea, President TCCI (2nd from right) & Siosifa Pomana TCCI-PGEN Country Facilitator (1st from left).