The United States Government, via the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Nationwide Microbank (MiBank) launched a new initiative on International Women’s Day to support women entrepreneurs and small business owners in Papua New Guinea.
The initiative will enable small and medium enterprise (SME) operators, women borrowers, and marginalized populations to access finance via MiBank with a reduced need for a strong credit history or access to collateral, both of which are traditionally needed to receive a loan. This was made possible through an investment guarantee of up to $5 million USD provided by DFC to MiBank, with the ultimate goal of promoting economic stabilization in the midst of COVID-19 downturns.
The launch event in Tubusereia Village, Central Province brought together MiBank leadership, U.S. Government representatives, the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI), provincial government, and local women keen to boost their small businesses. The event also hosted loan officers from MiBank’s Waigani Branch, who demonstrated the ease of MiBank’s mobile banking app, which enables customers to access their account without having to visit a physical bank branch location.
U.S. Ambassador Erin E. McKee said, “The United States places women’s empowerment – both economically and within their communities – as a top priority. We are happy to partner with MiBank on this guarantee, which will stimulate economic growth in Papua New Guinea as part of President Biden’s plan to “build back better” and combat the pandemic to secure a better future.”
MiBank COO Trudi Egi said, “MiBank’s Corporate Vision is to contribute to Financial Inclusion which for women could translate to embarking on a journey to financial empowerment which MiBank believes will add value to women’s livelihoods thereby positively impacting on the wellbeing of their families and society as a whole. MiBank is therefore proud to join hands with the US in celebrating the 2022 International Women’s Day and hopes this occasion provides the catalyst to kindle a spirit of women entrepreneurship to bring to fruition its Corporate Vision.”
Women play a critical role in poverty reduction and economic growth. Studies conducted around the world show that in every instance, when women generate income, they devote more of their household budget to education, health, and nutrition than men. More empowered women leads to healthier and more educated male and female children, strengthening society and securing a more prosperous future for families and the country.
Despite the economic evidence, women are underrepresented and economically excluded. As of 2019, only 8% of micro, small, and medium enterprises in PNG are owned by women. This partnership between the U.S. government and MiBank aims to change this.
DFC’s Vice President of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery added, “This first DFC transaction in Papua New Guinea illustrates DFC’s commitment to unlocking the economic potential of women. The MiBank project is just one example of USAID and DFC partnership in action to achieve greater economic and development impact.”
This is the first DFC transaction in Papua New Guinea. The transaction supports DFC’s 2X Women’s Initiative through which the agency is committed to addressing the unique challenges women face globally and unlocking the multi-trillion dollar opportunity they represent.
USAID will continue its support by providing technical assistance to assist borrowers with financial literacy and general business management, link small and medium enterprises and women borrowers who could benefit from the MiBank guarantee facility, and facilitate connections to cooperatives or associations for SMEs, as appropriate. The guarantee also has the potential to unlock lifesaving social benefits and robust economic growth during COVID-19.