High impact: Fiji’s compelling investment opportunities
If you’re an investor with a vision to positively impact people and communities, or keen to support transformational ‘green’ and ‘blue’ businesses, then Fiji is calling. In Fijian, Matanataki means ‘action’. It is also the name of a Fiji-based and owned private sector partnership of business developers, finance experts, conservationists and creatives who support the […]
If you’re an investor with a vision to positively impact people and communities, or keen to support transformational ‘green’ and ‘blue’ businesses, then Fiji is calling.
In Fijian, Matanataki means ‘action’. It is also the name of a Fiji-based and owned private sector partnership of business developers, finance experts, conservationists and creatives who support the development of green and blue businesses in the friendly Pacific Island nation.
Matanataki’s vision is to create a paradigm-shifting private sector ecosystem for Fiji – channelling investment directly to entrepreneurs and business owners who are passionate about bringing environmental change to Fiji’s rapidly degrading landscapes and seascapes.
“We develop and arrange investment into bankable businesses that contribute to the resilience of Fiji’s oceans, reefs and surrounding communities,” explains the company’s CEO Jodi Smith, a fifth generation decedent of Fiji’s first Chinese migrants, who was born and educated in New Zealand.
For investment partners, the return on investment is both financial and environmental, she says.
“Matanataki is currently building a Fiji-centric financing structure, a business development and investment platform. This is to meet the needs of investors who require an on-the-ground investment manager, and entrepreneurs looking for trusted mentorship and support.
“This will be structured as an investment fund for appropriate governance and compliance and we will raise capital commitments of US$75-100 million for fund investments as well as offer co-investments to fund investors in more mature opportunities.”
The entry level required investment is US$5 million.
Jodi says they are seeking a first close that will enable the execution of four investments.
“The target investment size for our first close is US$40 million. Thereafter we will build to US$100 million by 2025, with a total of 15 to 20 investments.”
The first three investments are in waste management, with investments four and five in aquaculture/mariculture. They will be followed by opportunities in tourism, agriculture, circular economy bottled water, blue infrastructure and cosmetics – all are in Fiji.
Jodi is excited about the potential of these opportunities and what they can do, not just for the all-important investment partners, but also for the future of Fiji.
“Climate change has highlighted the true value of natural resources, and the need for local stewardship over those resources. Fiji is home to the third longest barrier reef in the world; a reef that is one of the most resilient to rising temperatures. The country is also heavily reliant on imports and offers huge opportunities despite its small size.
“There are significant amounts of capital out there seeking a green and blue home, and Fiji has a strong pipeline of investment ready and near-investment ready businesses,” says Jodi.
“I’m excited to be part of what I believe could be economic ecosystems change for this small island nation. A nation I am very proud to call home.”
Interested investors are being encouraged to reach out to Matanataki. “There’s nothing we love more than sharing the news about the exciting work our entrepreneurs are doing and our investment opportunities,” says Jodi.
“Investors don’t need to visit Fiji personally. What’s unique about our offering is that we are here on the ground for investors. We provide them with all the information, guidance and support they need to make investments from offshore.”
For people and community
Another investment opportunity unique to Fiji and, again, representing excellent returns sees landowners and investors form a joint venture with the changespace property company.
Changespace is an exciting new venture that builds upon the experience of its parent company CAUKIN Studio – a design and build social enterprise that creates impact through architectural projects (it has completed more than 40 in the past seven years) and comes with extensive experience in community-based construction projects, many in the South Pacific.
Changespace goes that one step further too, by creating impactful working environments for international remote workers as well as local people.
“Fiji’s changespace facilities will provide engrained community programmes including resource libraries, both physical and digital, as well as business accelerator courses and drop-in skills sessions for local community members,” explains Harry Thorpe, spokesperson for CAUKIN Studio.
“Changespace leases the property asset to run our impactful remote working/living spaces – aka ‘opco/propco’ spaces,” he adds. “Alternatively, for the right site and with the right investor we may consider an outright purchase of the freehold land.”
Harry cites the Bula Bataki VCO (virgin coconut oil) project as an example of the type of project they facilitate with help from investors. It’s a project that balances profit and purpose – a cyclone-resistant facility that now enables the local community cooperative to trade outside Fiji and increase the potential income for individuals on the island.
He says they seek investors who can share the changespace vision of creating opportunity for people and communities.
“Investors with a background in property, tourism, or knowledge of the tourism property market in the South Pacific would be great. However, we’re also looking for investors with a strong ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) focus, as well as ‘hands-off’ investors who perhaps have no experience in these areas.”
Returns for investors come via a combination of rental income from the lease of the site, assuming the investor acquires the freehold/long leasehold, and the capital appreciation of the changespace building.
“For illustrative purposes we are targeting a two to three times cash-on-cash return for investors over a five-year period,” says Harry.
As for T&C’s, these are negotiated on a project-by-project basis, tailored to each particular site and the investor’s requirements.
Harry strongly believes that 2022 is the best time to be investing in a changespace project in Fiji.
“Remote working and flexible working patterns are here to stay, so employers are looking for new ways to attract talent and facilitate flexible working patterns.”
“Individuals’ appetite for travel is growing stronger as we emerge from the pandemic so we feel we’re perfectly positioned to deliver changespace to fulfill those desires. We believe there will be a big movement to this type of working and we can be early movers in this sector.
“There is a clear desire for people to get more fulfilment from their work whilst creating a positive impact on society and communities and we believe changespace fills that gap.”
No better time
Fiji remains at the frontline in advocating international policies to counter climate change. Internally, since covid, the nation has re-thought and re-aligned its strategies to enable ESG investment. Fiji’s 2021/22 budget provides numerous regulatory changes, and there is a low and competitive tax regime across a number of sectors.
In addition, there will be more incentives and concessions for environmental goods and services following the conclusion of negotiations on the Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability.
The business environment is set, and with the re-opening of New Zealand borders, there has never been a more opportune time to take advantage of the diverse business opportunities in Fiji.
For more information on these, and other, Fiji investment opportunities contact [email protected]
Main image: how a changespace facility will look.
Below: Discussing waste management solutions at a Fiji dumpsite.