By Ioane Burese, Fiji Times online -
CIVIL servants, rural dwellers and businessmen based in rural areas will no longer spend extra cash to travel to urban centres to withdraw their money.
This follows legislation for banks to establish microfinance projects to assist rural dwellers.
Westpac Bank’s microfinance head Olive Whippy said the bank had recently launched a new product called EFTPOS terminal which will benefit rural communities in terms of withdrawing cash.
“The EFTPOS terminal will be able to accept Westpac Handy Cards, ANZ and BSP cards, top up your mobile phones, pay your bills for example FEA, Sky Pacific, print a statement of up to 10 transactions, activate your handy card and accept deposits and withdraw cash,” she said.
“The rural areas do not have access to banking thus this is an initiative by Westpac they can take advantage of.
“With the value adds noted above rural people now can have access to banking from their village.”
The new product provided by Westpac will reduce travelling cost and unnecessary expenses by civil servants, business communities and farmers.
Ms Whippy said in some rural areas they had identified small supermarkets and cooperatives to partner with including post offices.
“Westpac will levy 40 cents for each transaction,” Ms Whippy said.
“The challenge we face is identifying agents in rural areas because we have not been able to travel to some of these areas because there are no flights and boats are inconsistent.”
Mrs Whippy said rural areas had been asking for banking facilities, however, there was a need to discuss Westpac products with the provincial council and commissioners in the four divisions.
“This week we are going to Koro to install two terminals in Nacamaki and Mudu.
“Last week we visited Vunidawa and identified agents along the Korovou -Tavua corridor.
“Next week we will be up in the North. We have also identified three agents on Kadavu.”
By Monika Singh, Fiji Times Online -
THE Westpac Microfinance expo yesterday gave a chance to small business entrepreneurs to showcase their products.
Kinisimere Volau, who makes jewelry, was at the expo which was held at Garden City in Raiwai.
Ms Volau said it was the second time she participated in the expo and said it was good for her small business.
Ms Volau said she started her business with her savings and does not regret the decision.
Westpac head of microfinance, Olive Whippy said they wanted to give small sellers a chance to promote their products so that they could find a marke.
Ms Whippy said they also encouraged the sellers to put clear labels on their products so that people recognised their product.
She said the expo yesterday had 60 stalls and they wanted to encourage people to take advantage of the microfinance scheme.
“Most people see microfinance and they think it’s only about lending but we also teach people about financial literacy, management of money and savings,” she said.
Ms Whippy said so far 15, 00 have been through the Westpac Microfinance programme and they have a request from FMF to teach their 1200 staff about financial literacy.
She said they have a financial literacy working group that is working on a programme for schools.
Ms Whippy said they were working with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Women and Social Welfare and they planned to have financial literacy as part of the school curriculum.
“We have both men and women who are interested in our microfinance programme but the women are more dominant,” she said.
The expo had stalls which sold books, clothes, food, shoes, flowers and other nick nacks.
From Asia Pacific News -
Microfinance institutions in Fiji are facing a real challenge with many their clients defaulting on their loans.
The loans are designed to provide people who would not normally be able to get a bank loan, access to funds.
The delinquency among microfinance borrowers in Fiji has been blamed on cultural and traditional ways of looking at borrowing.
But Dorinda Work, Operations Manager of Microfinance Unit West in Lautoka says its time the five microfinance institutions in Fiji reviewed the way they lend money.
“We need to be more stringent with the way we address the lending…the methodologies we use, the client selection,” she said.
“One of the major problems is that the [Microfinance Institutions] does not have the real goal to ensure that repayments are made on time and if they are not pushing it the clients tend to relax further and slacken on their repayments.”
By Serafina Silaitoga, Fiji Times -
RESERVE Bank of Fiji Governor Sada Reddy yesterday encouraged the community in the north to make use of microfinance services which could improve livelihoods and tackle poverty.
Speaking at the opening of the Reserve Bank’s Microfinance Expo in Labasa, Mr Reddy said microfinance programs helped increase involvement of women in the economic and social activities.
“We have been monitoring with much anticipation the developments that have been taking place here in the North and we want to be part of it. This is the reason we are here today,” Mr Reddy said.
“We are interested for the simple reason that microfinance can play a key role in the economic development and well-being of our people and country.”
He said that through microfinance, many of the poor in the communities would have the opportunity to access financial services to improve their living standards.
With the expo theme ù Inspiring Growth through Microfinance ù Mr Reddy said that there was vast untapped resources in the Northern Division.
“With proper policies and support in place, these resources can be harnessed to produce business opportunities and source of living for the people in this region.
“The government is keen on realising this and we intend to visit some projects under the Northern Development initiatives,” Mr Reddy said.
Commissioner Northern Inia Seruiratu pleaded with the people in the north to stop the rural-urban drift and help develop the island of Vanua Levu.
He said the Northern Division had a lot to offer investors and government was working with respective authorities as part of the Look North policy.
By Jemima Garrett, Radio Australia News -
One of the region’s most successful microfinance organisations is set to open its doors in Fiji next week.
The South Pacific Business Development Development Foundation began in Samoa ten years ago.
Having lent almost $US13 million to 12,000 families it is spreading its wings.
It opened an office in Tonga last year and a new Fiji operation will be launched on September 15th.
SPBD founder Greg Casagrande says the organisation is expanding rapidly.
“We will get to six or seven thousand clients in Tonga in short order, wheras Fiji we could easily reach 20,000 clinets in the next few years.”
Mr Casagrande says the South Pacific Business Development Foundation has been able to make a significant difference to the lives of poor Pacific Islanders.
By Timoci Vula, Fiji Times Online -
MICROINSURANCE does not currently exist in Fiji on any large scale, says Reserve Bank of Fiji governor Sada Reddy.
But he said its power to increase people’s financial security and fortify their level of social protection warranted informational exchange on the issue.
Mr Reddy said this product was now the fastest growing microfinance product in the world, providing benefits to millions of mothers, farmers and small business owners around the world.
“Because of this phenomenon, the RBF has reviewed the Insurance Act of 1998 to ensure that there are no restrictions hindering the introduction of this product here in Fiji,” Mr Reddy said.
“We totally support any initiative or pilot project in microinsurance, and hope that insurance companies do take the initiative to explore the potential of this market,” he said.
Mr Reddy made these comments at a gathering of insurance and banking executives, and other financial stakeholders at the RBF on Thursday to discuss issues of financial inclusion on the topic ‘Information exchange on microinsurance’.
“From the CEOs of insurance companies, to rural cooperatives of farmers, everyone here has a part to play in the development of this field, which will help create a more stable and secure Fiji,” he said.
Highlighting a report submitted by the Asian Development Bank last month on financial inclusion, he said it exposed that Fiji currently had no standardised reporting format for microfinance.
He said this meant financial transparency was very low.
“In order to increase the transparency of microfinance institutions, and facilitate better performance monitoring standards, RBF and PFIP (Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme) collaborated to provide financial reporting training to 35 people here in Fiji at the beginning of this month,” Mr Reddy said.
“This is an important step to building the local capacity here now, to ensure that microfinance initiatives in the future are both stable and sustainable,” he said.