People from Nasuapum village in rural Wampar, Morobe province no longer need to travel long distances to access banking services, thanks to support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Through USAID’s PNG Lukautim Graun Program (LGP) partnership with MiBank, a nationwide micro bank, people living in rural and remote communities like Nasuapum are now receiving access to banking services which increases their opportunities for improved sustainable and renewable livelihood activities and brings them into the formal financial sector giving them access to a range of MiBank financial services.
Increased access to financial services such as micro and small loans to start businesses is expected to directly reduce pressure on biodiversity and forest habitats.
On April 7, MiBank staff, with the support of LGP, opened 12 new bank accounts for ten women and two men in Nasuapum village.
MiBank’s Lae branch manager, Emily Solomon, was pleased with the interest shown by villagers and has agreed to work with the local community to establish a banking agent to be based long-term in the village.
“We want the community themselves to identify the agent and make recommendations to us to train him or her on how to best serve the community, as well as to accept deposits and do withdrawals for community members,” she said.
Ms. Solomon provided awareness on banking products and financial services specially tailored for rural communities and offered by MiBank including banking requirements to access credit designed to support livelihood opportunities for villagers and micro, small to medium enterprises.
USAID LGP’s Livelihood officer, Jayanne Mailai urged local villagers to develop a savings culture and open a bank account.
“Having a bank account enables people to save their money in a secure place for future use and grow income from their livelihood activities.”
Sandra Alakam was first to open an account and receive a bank card.
“This is my first time to own a bank card. Thank you USAID for making this possible,” said Ms Alakam.
It is hard and sometimes dangerous for women to travel long distances to access banks in towns.
Sandra is a member of the Ngasawapum Mama Association which represents women in the Nasuapum village.
The association operates a small taxi business and intends to open an account with MiBank to grow their business.
Cardno International Development implements the USAID PNG Lukautim Graun Program (LGP) in cooperation with implementing partners Care International, PNG Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
USAID’s support through LGP focuses on protecting and restoring biodiversity and natural habitat in PNG and economically empowering women so that current generations can meet their needs without endangering the ability of future generations to meet theirs.