by Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby
More Papua New Guineans are receiving basic financial education on savings and budgeting skills through the joint partnership program between the state, the Australian Government and the Asian Development Bank.
The Microfinance Expansion Program has already reached over 8,300 people in the Highlands region. From this, almost half are women.
An additional 5,000 men and women graduated from the program over the weekend with small business plans they are eager to achieve.
Most of these men and women, who participated in the MEP, are locals who have zero financial background but are heavily involved in the informal sector.
They said the training, has helped them realised the importance of having a savings culture.
Josephine Pena, is a local coffee grower. She was one of the 400 participants from Kinjibini Pramdaka Association who graduated over the weekend.
“This training has helped me, many times I waste money on things I do not need, but now it will help me save money,” Josephine said.
She said, with the understanding she acquired, she can now identify when to spend and when not to.
MEP is a national government project facilitated through the Bank of Papua New Guinea and other financial partners.
It aims to educate and empower people in rural communities to practise a savings culture, manage their finances, start up a new business or expand on their existing businesses.
So far over 8,000 people in the Highlands region have completed the training and have opened bank accounts.
Since establishing its branch in Mt. Hagen, the People’s Micro-bank Limited recorded an estimated 4,000 customers who opened bank accounts with PML through MEP.
Assistant PML Branch manager in Mt Hagen, Julie Pena, explained that although Papua New Guineans are capable of making money, many lack the ability to save some for the rainy days.
An additional $US 3.4 million was given by the Australian Government through the Foreign Aid and Trade, formally known as the Australian Aid, to conduct the finical education in the other three regions.