Going Digital: Pacific’s Small Coconut Business Owners Break the Internet
Thursday, 31 January 2019 15:36

Market access has been a huge barrier for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Pacific and in other developing countries for a long time, but thanks to rapid innovations in information technology, they now have the ability to overcome this obstacle if they are given the opportunity to learn.
More and more possibilities have been emerging for businesses because of the world wide web, however the SMEs in our region are still catching up to the rest of the digitally-connected world. Knowing this tremendous lack of digital representation in the coconut industry, the Coconut Industry Development of the Pacific (CIDP) initiated a 3-day training course to provide tools and teach skills to small coconut business owners in the Pacific so that they are able to compete with the biggest global brands.
On the 21st to the 23rd of November 2018, twenty four (24) private sector participants from twelve (12) Pacific Island countries converged in Novotel Nadi, Fiji, for the E-marketing Train the Trainers Course. How in-depth was their knowledge on digital marketing? Not much as most admitted. With this limited knowledge on e-marketing, Samuel Parkinson of Protocol Global introduced new tools like email marketing services, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), and website creation. In essence, all of these begin to level the playing field for small producers. They enable and empower small coconut sector players in the region to enhance their competitiveness and ultimately improve their livelihoods.
One of the participants, Rudolf Dora of Pacific Farm Limited, recognised that not all digital platforms are needed for all coconut business sectors. As small businesses, they have to choose wisely based on costs, what is affected and what the business really needs. He asserted, “This e-marketing course created a better understanding for different Pacific SMEs to better market their products and brands, and also to create a pathway to generate more sales.”
Before making it a goal to break the internet, the first main step for the participants of this training is to develop an overarching digital marketing strategy which will support their digital development, from creating awareness of their products and brands so as to penetrate the market, to generating client feedback, and building a network with other coconut business owners regionally and internationally. “Breaking the Internet” is a relatively new phrase that has been coined in the last few years to connote something online that dominates the digital conversation which creates a colossal surge in web traffic to the point of causing its web servers to overload and even crash, thus essentially breaking the internet.
Mailelani Samoa Body Care, a small artisan business that was started from the ground up by the Salanoa family in Apia nominated one of their daughters, Kezia, to attend the training. Kezia dabbles with her family company’s digital marketing, and is grateful for the affirmation with all that she has been doing thus far. She found the extra training valuable and necessary so their business can establish a better marketing strategy. Her perspective on showcasing their company and products was profoundly changed when facilitator, Samuel Parkinson stated that in the online space, people definitely resonate more with the story of a product and a company more than anything. Kezia says, “Telling a story gives the brand a character and identity that gives meaning to the product.”
By the end of the three days, each participant went back home to their respective countries equipped with an effective digital marketing strategy especially tailored to their business and experiences.

Market access has been a huge barrier for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Pacific and in other developing countries for a long time, but thanks to rapid innovations in information technology, they now have the ability to overcome this obstacle if they are given the opportunity to learn.


More and more possibilities have been emerging for businesses because of the world wide web, however the SMEs in our region are still catching up to the rest of the digitally-connected world. Knowing this tremendous lack of digital representation in the coconut industry, the Coconut Industry Development of the Pacific (CIDP) initiated a 3-day training course to provide tools and teach skills to small coconut business owners in the Pacific so that they are able to compete with the biggest global brands.

On the 21st to the 23rd of November 2018, twenty four (24) private sector participants from twelve (12) Pacific Island countries converged in Novotel Nadi, Fiji, for the E-marketing Train the Trainers Course. How in-depth was their knowledge on digital marketing? Not much as most admitted. With this limited knowledge on e-marketing, Samuel Parkinson of Protocol Global introduced new tools like email marketing services, social media, search engine optimisation (SEO), and website creation. In essence, all of these begin to level the playing field for small producers. They enable and empower small coconut sector players in the region to enhance their competitiveness and ultimately improve their livelihoods.

One of the participants, Rudolf Dora of Pacific Farm Limited, recognised that not all digital platforms are needed for all coconut business sectors. As small businesses, they have to choose wisely based on costs, what is affected and what the business really needs. He asserted, “This e-marketing course created a better understanding for different Pacific SMEs to better market their products and brands, and also to create a pathway to generate more sales.”

Before making it a goal to break the internet, the first main step for the participants of this training is to develop an overarching digital marketing strategy which will support their digital development, from creating awareness of their products and brands so as to penetrate the market, to generating client feedback, and building a network with other coconut business owners regionally and internationally. “Breaking the Internet” is a relatively new phrase that has been coined in the last few years to connote something online that dominates the digital conversation which creates a colossal surge in web traffic to the point of causing its web servers to overload and even crash, thus essentially breaking the internet.




Mailelani Samoa Body Care, a small artisan business that was started from the ground up by the Salanoa family in Apia nominated one of their daughters, Kezia, to attend the training. Kezia dabbles with her family company’s digital marketing, and is grateful for the affirmation with all that she has been doing thus far. She found the extra training valuable and necessary so their business can establish a better marketing strategy. Her perspective on showcasing their company and products was profoundly changed when facilitator, Samuel Parkinson stated that in the online space, people definitely resonate more with the story of a product and a company more than anything. Kezia says, “Telling a story gives the brand a character and identity that gives meaning to the product.”


By the end of the three days, each participant went back home to their respective countries equipped with an effective digital marketing strategy especially tailored to their business and experiences.