What is the Fiji Impact Internship?

South Pacific Business Development (SPBD)

The Fiji Impact Internship is a Monash-approved internship with South Pacific Business Development, one of the largest microfinance institutions in the South Pacific. You will spend three weeks in the summer break travelling to Fiji and shadowing SPBD project managers on both Viti Levu and Vanua Levu – the major islands of Fiji.


South Pacific Business Development (SPBD)

Beginning in 2000, SPBD is an established microfinance firm with local operations in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. Across these countries, SPBD serves over 20,000 loan clients and 44,000 savings clients. Applying the Grameen Bank model of microfinance, means that SPBD services are provided to groups of women. Daily operations are undertaken through SPBD staff workers travelling across urban towns and rural villages to facilitate the loan process (interviewing, loaning, collecting and depositing funds).

You can read more about SPBD here.

The internship will be an opportunity to:

Engage directly with SPBD’s clients and evaluate the impact of SPBD in the region.

Shadow branch and project managers of a major microfinance institution.

Travel across Fiji’s major islands to experience a unique and unfiltered view of Fiji on the coast and in villages deep inland.



While spots on this internship are limited, successful applicants will receive support from both Monash SEED and Monash University.
Every intern will receive:

  • 6 or 12 - point credit toward your degree as a Monash University Work Integrated Learning internship
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • $500 travel scholarship


Credit Points Location Cordinators Overseas Dates
6 OR 12 credit points Fiji Jeanne Cheong (Fiji Impact Internship Coordinator) and academic supervisor (TBC). Mid January – Mid February 2019



You will need to budget for the following:

  • Flights
  • Daily living expenses
  • Meals
  • Accommodation
  • Visa

SPBD will facilitate your travel between villages and branches, and travel between branches is self-organised.

Estimated costs are approximately $2,500- $3,000 before scholarship.

Applications for the 2018/2019 internship are now closed

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)


What will I be doing in Fiji?
Each day is likely to be slightly different due to the nature of work with SPBD. However, based on previous trips it might look like this: 8am – report to SPBD office branch, interns split up and leave with assigned staff member on their rounds 9am – arrive at the first village, while the staff runs the weekly meeting with members you undertake the surveys (approx. 3 surveys taking 15 minutes each) 9:45 am – leave for next village and so on… The number of villages, travel distances and surveys undertaken in a day vary due to scheduling and weather. Some days are longer than others – beginning earlier and finishing later but be mindful that the day includes driving times. This year we are also working on office visits to other development agencies in the area such as Oxfam Fiji and the Women’s Fund (DFAT) to gain a broader understanding of development, gender and finance in the region.
What are the surveys?

Prior to departure, successful interns will develop the list of survey questions asking SPBD members about their satisfaction, suggestions and issues with the services provided. Surveys are completed by hand however survey software is utilised in order to easily analyse the data upon return.

What happens back in Melbourne?

Once back in Melbourne, it’s time to analyse the data. A report is written addressing each question alongside recommendations for SPBD. It is up to interns as to how this is written but ideally the majority is completed to semester beginning.

Where do we stay?
The best part about this internship is that it is flexible to the budgets and needs of participants – meaning that you choose where you would like to stay. Fiji has a range of accommodation types ranging from basic backpacker hostels, more youth orientated social hostels to furnished apartments and upscale hotels. There is a list of accommodation used in the past however most can/are booked once in Fiji.
I don’t speak Fijian!

That’s okay! English is one of the official languages of Fiji along with Fijian (bula!) and Fijian Hindi. While English is widely spoken because of this, in some villages, members may find it more challenging to answer the survey questions. Patience, synonyms and a friend who can translate often helps. Of course – learning a few sentences of Fijian help practically and enhance understanding of the culture and members!

How do we travel around Fiji? Do I need to drive?

Rest assured you will not need to drive – in fact, SPBD hires designated drivers due to the distances covered and often unsealed roads. There are essentially two main roads in Fiji that take you around the biggest island – Viti Levu. They are Kings Road across the top and Queens Road along the bottom. Busses are the most common mode of transport by locals and tourists alike as they travel regularly and reliably on this circuit.  You will also take a ferry in crossing to Vanua Levu. Unmetered taxis may also be used.

Do we have any free-time?

Like any office, SPBD is closed on the weekends which may be used as free time. Some weekends may include travel time to other cities in Fiji. Take time to see the natural beauty of Fiji, hide from the heat in the cinema, learn about Fijian history at the museum or make use of the activities at your hostel should there be any. Students may also choose to stay on a few extra days for some R&R.

*I’m not an Australian citizen – can I go?

You are eligible for this trip if you are a student at Monash University (and thus with the relevant student visas). All interns will be required to obtain a visa that permits work on a visitor visa. However, this will be done through SEED/SPBD.

Do I have to have microfinance experience?

It is not necessary to have experience in the sector however it is preferable to have some knowledge of the sector, region or perspectives on gender and development. Above all, interns should be motivated, reliable and willing to learn.
Prior to departure, there will be a number of meetings to organise, plan and prepare for the trip.

Not that important but also kind of important - what is the food like?
There is a real mix of food in the larger cities of Fiji – namely the capital Suva including Chinese, and Korean as well as traditional fare. History has meant that due to the large Indian population there is (happily!) much Indian food across the country. Food courts are quite reliable as well as restaurants. In more explicitly ‘tourist’ areas such as Nadi or in resorts you’re likely to find more European fare. In the villages you may be offered some local cuisine such as boiled dalo (taro), fish, roti bread or tropical fruits. It’s recommended that visitors drink bottled water. Some accommodation may have a kitchen and well stocked supermarkets make cooking possible. When out in the field, there may not be a designated ‘lunch time’ so it is best to bring some snacks.
How much will it cost?

As mentioned above, the costs can be quite variable depending on where you decide to stay or eat. A modest budget would be around $2,500 - $3,000 for four weeks including flights, accommodation, food, transport and additional purchases such as gifts and sulu (skirt).

Highlights from previous trips

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