3rd Graduation for MEP in the Highlands Region

Jodie McAlister from Australia High Commission Governance Councellor presenting a certificate to a MEP graduand in Kwinka Primary School, Mul Baiyer District, Western Highlands Province looking on by Mr. Benny Popoitai, Deputy Governor, Bank of Papua New Guinea.

The Reformation Ministries of Churches Network through its partnership with the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP) has graduated more than 3,000 people in Western Highlands on Wednesday 1st July 2015.

The graduation ceremony was held at Kwinka Primary School in Mul Baiyer District and was witnessed by representatives from AusAid, Bank of Papua New Guinea, National Planning & Treasury, Microfinance Expansion Project team, Western Highlands Provincial Government and surrounding communities in the Baiyer area.

This is the third graduation of Reformation Ministries of Churches Network (RMCN) after it partnered with Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP) under the arrangement to deliver Financial Education (FE) to the members of its church network.

The Ministry’s first financial education graduation was held in October 2014 at the RMCN headquarters in Tsak Valley, Enga Province, followed by a second graduation in Minz, Jiwaka Province in December the same year.

Under the Microfinance Expansion program around 47,000 people have graduated in financial education training around Papua New Guinea. 27,000 of those who have graduated were women.

By 2018 a target of 120, 000 people should be trained across the country when the Microfinance Expansion Project comes to an end. Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) was created to replace and continue the work of the Microfinance Expansion project when it ceases operations in 2018.

The financial education training is about educating Papua New Guineans about basic budgeting and savings which will empower them to access financial services to improve their livelihood.

Financial Education Training, Mt. Hagen

Deputy Governor Mr. Benny Popoitai, MBE (Right) presenting a certificate to one of the participants of Financial Inclusion Training  at Mt. Hagen
Deputy Governor Mr. Benny Popoitai, MBE (Right) presenting a certificate to one of the participants of Financial Inclusion Training at Mt. Hagen

On the 30th APRIL, 2015 – Hundreds of residents from Western Highlands, Jiwaka and Enga Province in Papua New Guinea (PNG) celebrated the completion of their financial education training in a mass graduation ceremony at Queens Park Oval — marking another major milestone for the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP), supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australian Government (DFAT) and Papua New Guinea Government (GoPNG).

The Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), First Secretary- Governance, Mr.Simon Roz, presented 5,000 graduates with their certificates at the ceremony attended by representatives from the Microfinance Expansion Project, Bank of Papua New Guinea, Department of Treasury, Financial Instructions, NGOs, CBOs and Women Groups.

Mr. Benny Popoitai, Deputy Governor, BPNG gave the keynote address stating that; “the demand for access to financial knowledge and services in rural areas is growing. MEP has enabled rural low income earners to get access to financial awareness for the first time. Our challenge is to keep expanding our financial literacy activities to ensure more people are financially educated and help low income earners contribute to economic development.”

“Microfinance Expansion Project is a government initiative to promote financial inclusion through financial literacy. A well over 8 million people in Papua New Guinea will acquire financial education over the years”, said Mr Popoitai. He praised the participants for engaging in this Financial Education Training and thanked Komoka One (K1) Association for its partnership. He further encouraged, participants to continue to spread the knowledge they have acquired to the people in their respective family groups and communities.’’

An estimated 85% of the population in PNG does not have access to financial services. The low-income population of the country are termed as ‘core excluded’, in terms of the extent of financial exclusion, as they conduct their financial transactions completely outside the regulated financial system, mostly on a cash-only basis and sometimes in-kind. Amongst the several causes of financial exclusion, the primary ones are – high costs associated with small value transactions, lack of infrastructure, and lack of client-centric products, rigid processes and weak delivery models.

The Government in its effort to promoting the financial inclusion agenda in PNG have initiated the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP) which is co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) or DFAT and the Government itself through counterpart support. Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) is the executing agency of this project. The Project has an overarching goal of enhancing financial inclusion by extending financial services to the bulk of the rural population in PNG.

The project is designed to provide financial education to 120,000 people across PNG and increase financial inclusion in PNG by improving access to financial services in the country by the end of 2017 also supports social empowerment of women. It was encouraging to note that half of the 5,000 graduands were women. The project was launched in April 2012, with BPNG as the executing agency and MicroSave as technical partner. The Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion was incorporated as part of the project’s outputs and is the main agency for coordinating financial inclusion and financial education initiatives in PNG. Furthermore, the project aims to enhance financial inclusion by:

  • Strengthening the financial institutions that focus on servicing the rural population through capacity building and training;
  • Training the community on financial education and business development services;
  • Working with networks to establish industry standards and best practices;
  • Promote lending by microfinance institutions by providing the Risk Share Facility; and
  • Developing a conducive regulatory environment, and strengthening supervision by working closely with regulators.

Financial Literacy Training is one of the biggest outputs in this Microfinance Expansion Project. It has a target to reach 120,000 people, of which 40% are women. Six training modules have been developed which are; Savings, Budgeting, Debt Management, Bank Services, financial negotiations and Mobile Banking.

The project has partnered with K1 Association to deliver trainings in the Highlands region covering WHP, SHP, Enga and Jiwaka Provinces to reach 50,000 people. So far they have received the Training of Trainers (TOT) training from the project and have trained over 5,000 people for which it’s Mass Graduation and Certificate presentation is held in Western Highland Province where majority have trained.


Financial Exposition in Kokopo July 2014

The Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) hosted a four (4) days Financial Inclusion Exposition (FI Expo) in Kokopo, East New Britain Province in July 16th – 20th, 2014.

The theme of the expo was “Save now to make your dreams come true”. The expo was an on-going commitment undertaken by the BPNG in collaboration with other financial institutions to pursue, extend and create awareness on the new and existing financial products and the mediums of delivery.

Creating a savings culture in the young minds to enable youths and school children open new savings accounts were strongly emphasized during the Expo by the various financial institutions.

BPNG Governor Mr. Loi M. Bakani and the Governor for East New Britain Province the Honourable Ereman ToBaining launched the FI Expo on July 15th, 2014 at the Gazelle International Hotel. The launched was witnessed by invited guests from ENB Provincial Administration, participating financial institutions and media personnel. The expo coincided with the Tolai Warwagira

and Mask Festival.

The public including the youths and school children in and around Kokopo and Rabaul were invited to visit the expo and interact with financial institutions to learn about their various products and services and the roles they play in promoting financial inclusion in the country.

A total of twenty one (21) financial institutions participated in the 4 day expo which commenced with a motorcade to draw public’s attention towards the event.

Simultaneously, AG Pidik and other executives went to air on Radio East New Britain informing and inviting the public to the expo and the various products available within the financial institutions.

The event was described to be successful as overwhelming attendance of 6000 plus visitors including students, young people, recently retired people, subsistence farmers and the general public dropped in on the expo and in the process a total of 600 new bank accounts were opened.

Women’s Micro Bank

Governor Loi Bakani, recently awarded a banking licence to a Women’s group.

“This is a big step forward to empower disadvantaged and financially illiterate women of PNG as the Women’s Bank is for low income women to deposit their money or to get loans to start a small business,” said Mr Bakani.

“I congratulate the Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Micro Bank ThushariHewapathirana and her Team of Directors for the milestone achievement to be awarded the banking licence”.

“This is the fifth license granted this year as part of the National Strategy for Financial Inclusion & Financial Literacy 2014-2015 in targeting the wider population of our country with special emphasis on women and youths. This achievement will make it possible for women to meet their banking needs.

MsHewapathirana thanked the Governor and Assistant Governor for Financial Systems Stability Group, Ellison Pidik and his team for the support given during the 16 months of waiting for the license.

Women’s MicroBank Directors, Janet Sape, Alphonse Malipu and former Member of Parliament, Gabriel Kapris were also present to receive the licence.

“It was not an easy journey as we had to comply with all the BPNG requirements to ensure obligations were met and we are grateful to BPNG for the recognition and granting of this licence. It is indeed a special moment for us and the women of PNG,” said Mr Kapris.

MrsSape said it was through many years of collaboration with Government and other women who had the vision to reach out to other women.

“We emerged from a humble beginning and can now impact many livelihoods as we reach out to as many unbanked women.

One person can make a difference but together we can rock the nation.” she said.

Bank of PNG launches National Financial Inclusion Strategy

Bank of Papua New Guinea Governor last week launched PNG’s National Financial Inclusion & Financial Literacy Strategy 2014-2015.
The launch of the strategy which coincided with the Bank’s hosted Financial Inclusion Expo at the Sir John Guise Indoor Stadium in Port Moresby aims to target 1 million bank accounts in the next 2 years with 50 percent for women.
The expo which is the second to be held after its inaugural launch last year in Lae, creates a forum for financial institutions, commercial banks and government agencies to show case products and services and also to inform people about awareness on the development of financial products and services.
Minister for Treasury, Don Polye who launched the strategy said it will pave the way for stakeholders including Government agencies, financial institutions and commercial banks to work with the grass roots people including women to provide ways for them to easily access financial services.
Also launched during the two days expo was the National Youth Savings Campaign aimed at encouraging children between the age of 15 – 25 to open bank accounts and save money. Thirteen financial institutions are taking part in the campaign which ends in 2015. The institutions include BSP, Westpac, ANZ, Nationwide MicroBank, Teacher’s Savings & Loans Society, Police Savings & Loans Society, PNG Microfinance Ltd, Kada Poroman Microfinance, Nasfund Savings &Loans, Sepik Savings & Loans Society, New Irelands Savings & Loans Society and ENB Savings & Loans Society.
Governor for Bank of PNG, Loi Bakani acknowledged the support of financial institutions in encouraging youth savings campaign.

“National Youth Campaign aims to target school children between the age of 15 -25 and create a savings culture whereby children learn to save money at an early age.
This year’s expo was held on Dec 6 -7 with 30 financial institutions and commercial banks participating and over 15, 700 attendees.