Helping to create self sustainable communities.
The Katalyst Foundation was established by Robert Cromb, one of the founders of KOOKAÏ. Through the generous support of KOOKAI customers and team members we are fortunate to continue the important work of Katalyst in its efforts to alleviate poverty and empower communities.
The decision to establish Katalyst was informed not only due to it being the homeland of one of our founders, but as Fiji is one of our closest neighbours with an alarming 30% (2019-20) of its population living in poverty.
“Having experienced life at both ends of the financial spectrum, I concluded some time ago that money does not buy you happiness, but it has provided me with opportunities, experiences, and freedom that I may not have otherwise had. I’ve observed the growing disparity between those blessed with the good fortune of opportunity and those who, through no fault of their own, are left in a cycle of perpetual poverty.
Coming from one of the poorest island provinces in Fiji, I’ve seen charity groups come and go over the years; giving donations and aid that provide only a temporary solution. Without the skills and knowledge to break the cycle, we fall back into the same struggles all over again once they’ve left. This is why I established Katalyst – the harvester of change – to equip communities with the resources, infrastructure and skills to become self-sufficient and work their way out of poverty once and for all.
I want Katalyst to be the seed that plants hope for the poor, the agent to awaken the conscience of their more fortunate neighbours through the virtue of charity.”
– Rob Cromb, Founder of KOOKAÏ and Katalyst
Our Fiji connection
Rob grew up in Fiji. In fact, until the age of 12, Rob lived in Bua, a small provincial town on the north-west side of the North Island, Vanua Levu in Fiji prior to relocating to Melbourne, Australia. In 2013, Bua was listed as one of the poorest towns in Fiji with 63 percent of its people living under the poverty line.
Rob experienced poverty first-hand and saw family members perish from illness, disease and lack of access to medical supplies, food and water. Despite this, Rob recalls growing up in Fiji surrounded by happy memories of family and friends and the comfort of a strong family culture, nurturing through the good times and confronting through the bad. Rob experienced times of which he did not have food to eat and felt a sense of responsibility to ensure there would be a time that he would be able to give back to his Fijian extended family with ease.
When given the opportunity of schooling and a life in Australia, Rob had the drive to succeed. Over 30 years later, Rob is now able to share his experiences and passion to positively transform lives in Fiji.
Katalyst is a unique philosophy. It does not rely solely on donations of goods to eliminate poverty, it relies on creating opportunities. Katalyst’s values establish a long-term sustainable solution to poverty, one which will result in access to all aspects of education and work. Katalyst seeks to create long-term economic sustainability.
80% of deaths in Fiji are due to non-communicable diseases.
Pockets of poverty continue to be a major cause of poor health in Fiji and are also a barrier to accessing quality health care. There is a cyclic relationship with poor health and exacerbating poverty. Katalyst is focused on breaking this cycle by offering various programs committed to creating healthier communities.
In Fiji, current high secondary school drop-out rates increase unemployment, poverty and high-risk behaviour. While net enrolment in secondary education is at 80.3 percent, the high secondary school drop-out rate remains a concern. This is largely due to poverty and income challenges.
We believe education can be the one key factor that has the ability to break the poverty cycle.
Advancing social welfare and supporting disaster relief
We encourage self-sustainability and empowerment through providing educational and training opportunities in local communities to develop and refine skills. This training then creates skilled workers able to take on employment opportunities.
In addition, our disaster relief readiness program is robust, allowing us to act fast and deploy the basic essentials quickly.
Meet our team in Australia.
Co-founder of Kookai Australia and founder of the Katalyst Foundation, Robert Cromb was born in the Bua Province, in a remote village on the northern island of Vanua Levu Fiji. Although he and his family relocated from Fiji to Melbourne when Rob was young, his ties to the culture and people of Fiji remained an enormous part of his everyday life.
Throughout the decades spent building a multi-million dollar brand that is Kookai, the connection to his homeland and it’s people remained the focus that ran deep within his mission. His exposure to the level of poverty experienced in Fiji was the driving force behind Katalyst Foundation. Katalyst was born out of a desire to simply give back to a country that gave him so much. His intention is to create long lasting changes to break the cycle of poverty and work with the Fijian community to transform and improve their way of life by providing opportunity and hope.
Liz returns to the Kookai family after an extensive career in senior leadership roles for well-known Australian Fashion retail brands, running her own manufacturing and importing business and managing corporate relationships. Liz has spent the last 5 years working with enormous passion in the Not for Profit sector across all aspects of Medical research, children experiencing neurodiversity and disability and families doing it tough. With experience in all aspects of Marketing, Fundraising and Events, Partnerships and Developing and delivering programs combined with her thirst to succeed and make a difference, international aid was an area she had always aspired to immerse herself in. Her role as Katalyst General Manager combines her commercial business skills with her love for NFP organisations and her commitment and awareness of social impact and helping others far less fortunate.
Meet our team in Fiji.
Temalesi (Tema) Sikuri
Temalesi Sikuri (‘Tema’) is the Senior Legal Counsel of the Lyndhurst Group of Companies in Fiji, of which, Katalyst Foundation is the charitable arm. Tema has approximately 15 years of experience in corporate law across the Asia Pacific region, having begun her legal career in the renowned telecommunications company, Digicel, prior to joining the Lyndhurst Group of Companies in May 2018. Tema provides legal and much needed regulatory support to the Katalyst Foundation Board and management team, and oversees the daily operations of Katalyst Foundation in Fiji, the humanitarian aspect of which she believes brings a perfect balance to her career. Tema has been the backbone of the Katalyst Foundation and it’s operation in Fiji.
Radilaite (Ite) Tagivetaua
Ite is the Projects Coordinator for the Katalyst Foundation in Fiji. She has been working tirelessly with the foundation for the past 3 years and has been with the Lyndhurst group of companies for the past 8 years. Having come from the Bua Province, Ite has a deep understanding of this region and it’s people and regularly works closely with its authorities who help to enable the delivery of our initiatives and projects on the ground. Along with providing specialised support to the students from Bua via our Tertiary Hostel program and other Katalyst Educational support programs, Ite coordinates and facilitates all activity needed on the ground providing the hands on approach we need. She liaises with surrounding schools and community groups in need of support and ensures the distribution of donations.
“One of the best things about my job is seeing the smiles of joy and satisfaction on people’s faces after providing them with the much needed assistance”.