So, you want to start a business?

Starting a business is an opportunity to create your own future, provide security for your family and contribute to your community. But the prospect of starting your own business can be both thrilling and daunting. So whether you want to be your own boss, turn a passion into a job, generate an income or create job opportunities for others, there are many things to consider if you are thinking about starting a business.

Why start your own business?

There are many benefits to starting your own business – for you, your family and your community. Here are some of the top reasons to turn your dream of being a business owner into a reality:

  1. Be your own boss – Owning your own business means you get to take control of when, how and where you work. You make the rules!
  2. Turn your interests into an income – If you have a passion for something people want to buy, you can turn your interest or knowledge into an income. What better way of making a living than doing something that you love?
  3. Support your family – Women tend to invest more in their families, especially in areas like health and education, so the more income you bring home, the better off your family will be.
  4. Create jobs for others – As a business owner you’ll be contributing to your local economy by creating jobs and opportunities for others. You’ll also have the benefit of choosing who you work with.
  5. A legacy to pass on to your children – Building your own business may mean creating something you can hand over to your children. At the very least, you’ll be a role model for following your dream and showing how hard work pays off.

Getting started

When you are starting a business, the first steps are often the biggest and hardest to make.

To lay the foundations for success, it’s important that you:

  1. Choose the right business for you;
  2. Set up the business structure, write a business plan and marketing plan*;
  3. Register your business with the relevant authorities;
  4. Set up your premises and / or website; and
  5. Set up your finance and accounting systems*.

* Download a copy of the IFC SME Toolkit for help here and a copy of Westpac’s Business Basics course here.

We’ve also created a checklist of everything you’ll need to get done before you launch your business. Download it here.

A note on working with friends and family

Many women start their business with the support of family or friends. While this is a great way to get started, it can also lead to trouble if not managed well from the start.

It is very important to be clear on whether any financial support offered is a loan (and the terms over which it will be repaid), or if it makes the person a shareholder in the business. If you are going into partnership, then you will need to have a written agreement in place which will outline what percentage of the business each of you own. It will also need to address how much each of you will contribute to the workload and ongoing operational costs associated with the running of the business.

If you are setting up as a sole trader but calling on friends and family for help, you need to be very clear about the role they will play in your business – including the amount of time they will commit and any money that you will pay them for doing so. Again, having this agreed in writing can help avoid conflict down the track.

Get professional support

Running a business can be exciting and rewarding, but it’s also a challenge that requires determination, hard work and persistence. If you’re thinking about, or are already in the process of launching a business, it pays to get professional support, training and the right information to help you reach your business goals. See the Resources section below for information about training and support networks available in the region.


National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED)

The National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development (NCSMED) aims to promote and accelerate the development and growth of small and micro enterprises in Fiji. With the support of government funding, NCSMED has established a Business Incubation Centre in Ra and Suva.

The Centre also provides business training, mentoring, financing through loans and grants, export assistance, new business and development.

Phone: +679 3312991 (Suva office)

Women Entrepreneurs and Business Council (WEBC)

Under the Fiji Commerce and Employers Federation (FCEF), WEBC offers a range of training courses for women in business including social media, marketing and financial management. Simply join the WEBC as a member to find out about local training opportunities.
Contact: Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Westpac Women’s Markets Manager, Fiji & Chair of WEBC
Email: or
Phone: +679 321 7627

Westpac and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Westpac and UNDP have signed a three-year pro bono agreement to provide financial literacy and business education training for market vendors in Fiji. The Financial First Steps and Business Basics courses aim to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. To register your interest in joining the program as a vendor contact:
Cema Bolabola, M4C Project Coordinator.
Phone: +679 9785908
Eseta Nadakuitavuki, Westpac Women’s Markets Manager, Fiji.
Phone: +679 321 7627.

Ginigoada Bisnis Development Foundation

Funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), this non-government organisation facilitates short-term skills development for people in PNG’s National Capital District.
Phone: +675 7200 0777

Papua New Guinea Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PNGWCCI)

PNGWCCI aims to support informal sector businesses join the formal sector. As a member, you’ll receive help to grow your business through networking opportunities, business coaching, mentoring programs, business skills training, facilitated connections with financial institutions, increased trade opportunities and corporate board training. To become a member, visit the PNGWCCI website:

National Development Bank of Papua New Guinea (NDP)

The NDP assists women business owners in setting up their own business through microfinance loans specifically for women.
Contact: NDP’s Women in Business branch
Phone: +675 324 7584 or +675 325 7500

Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC)

Offers training courses on how to start your own small business.
Contact: Maria Kalap, Women in Business Coordinator, SBDC.
Phone +675 323 5816

Women’s Chamber of Commerce

The Women’s Chamber of Commerce runs regular training courses in financial management and also provides networking opportunities in PNG. Join the group at:

Note: Westpac has offices in PNG and Fiji, so much of the content on this site relates to these countries. We hope, though, that it is useful for all women entrepreneurs across the Pacific and beyond.

We welcome your feedback on additional resources or contacts that would help to improve Pacific Women in Business. Please contact us with your ideas and feedback.