Savings course an eye opener

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday October 10th, 2013

 MORE than 60 workshop participants learnt the importance of saving and its influence on household budgeting, thanks to the Microfinance expansion project (MEP).

Forty-two women and 22 men from Port Moresby were awarded a certificate of basic financial literacy education at a ceremony held at the St Joseph’s Parish church in Boroko last Friday. 

The awards were presented to the group for successfully completing an intensive financial education course focused on the importance of saving and its influence on household budgeting. 

“The training opened my mind to the importance of saving,” 52-year-old Port Moresby mother of four Felisa Inoino-Avou said at the ceremony. 

Avou said the training would help her focus on her small catering business.

She intended to share the knowledge from the course with other women who also worked in the informal sector. 

Forty-eight-year old James Babogi is the manager of a 144ha rubber project in Sogeri. 

Having completed the intensive financial education course, he saw the need to make some major changes in his project. 

“It’s going to be a big challenge but using the information I gained from the course, I would restructure my operation and overhaul my budget.”

The financial education course was part of the MEP, funded by the PNG Government, Asian Development Bank and AusAID. 

The Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) is the executing agency. 

The project is supporting a large-scale financial literacy training programme which would deliver financial education to more than 120,000 people nationwide and in some of the most remote areas of PNG over the next six years.  

At least 40% of the trainees will be women. 

The training aimed to help potential bank clients determine what financial services they need such as savings, lending or insurance, and make them familiar with the services offered through mobile banking, such as using a mobile phone to make a payment.

“The microfinance expansion project is providing people in remote areas with greater access to financial education and access to banking services they need, Andrea Iffland, Regional Director of ADB’s office in Australia said. 

“This would encourage entrepreneurship which will ultimately help boost economic growth for the country as a whole.” 

The training itself was conducted by the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI), an independent entity, established through the microfinance expansion project, which is assisting the government to implement its national strategy for financial inclusion. 

BPNG manager of the banking supervision department George Awap said:  “I was shocked to find that 40% of the trainees from this group still did not have a bank account, but we are changing that with the microfinance expansion project.”

Awap said he looked forward to expanding the financial literacy training across the country in the coming months.

Fifty-four-year old pastor and father of six Melchior Isai looks forward to educating his older children about budgeting and saving. 

“The training has helped me to understand how I use my money. In future I will try to keep my spending under control so that we can save money’’

Thirty-five-year old Michaeline Kawih from Manua said the training had given her the confidence to start up and manage her own business.

Lack of access to financial services was a major constraint to rural development in PNG. 

ADB estimated that only 15% of the population had access to formal or informal banking facilities and this was even lower in remote areas.

MEP was expected to boost economic growth in some of PNG’s most isolated areas. 

It is also supporting the ability of financial institutions to deliver a wide range of financial services and products in rural areas. 

Financial literacy is a key part of the project.