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NEWS RELEASE June 27, 2002


Businesses in the Pacific have been urged to seriously consider non-government organizations as potential economic and social development partners.

Counterpart International's President and Chief Executive Officer Lelei LeLaulu said NGOs reflected the wishes of the communities they serve "and it is these very same communities which are the customers and clients for private sector companies.

"Companies should view community based groups as part of their marketing and sales strategies -- and not as charities to be dealt with if there were time and money," Mr LeLaulu said on his departure from Suva following special meetings of the FSP network, the largest in the South Pacific.

"And for their part, NGOs should also stop treating the private sector as the enemy. These are our natural partners, said Mr. LeLaulu, whose company, CPI, has launched several joint undertakings with international private sector players in Brazil, the Caribbean, Central America and the nations of the former Soviet Union.

Mr. LeLaulu said that many opportunities were available to the business community to expand their operations by tapping on the resources of NGOs in the Pacific region.

"Businesses in the Pacific should take a close look at the work of non-governmental organizations as they will find many activities which will advance their business agendas," he said.

He cited the Coral Gardens project, the innovative program run by FSP International and FSP Fiji, as an example of how an NGO and a commercial entity can enhance one another's work.

FSP is working with the Shangri-La's Fijian resort to restore the damaged reef system with the people of Cuvu, Nadroga.

The project contains a "tabu," coral reef restoration sites and experimental aquaculture on this stretch of the Coral Coast. It also involves a project to dispose of waste in an environmentally friendly fashion, further protecting the reefs.

He also acknowledged work done by the Tongan Development Trust's innovative "Rainwater Harvesting" project that it sells to the private sector.

Mr. LeLaulu said smart partnerships between NGOs and the business communities would enable both entities to extend their work.

For additional information: Wainikiti Waqa-Bogidrau Washington, D.C. TEL: 202-296-9676 Email: kiti@counterpart.org 

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