Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea – At APEC Haus, the U.S. Government, through The United States Agency for International Assistance (USAID), formally signed a Cooperation Agreement with the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) to deliver financial literacy training for women and communities in Papua New Guinea. The recipients of the training live in the most remote and biologically diverse regions of the country. The financial literacy trainings will improve economic conditions for women and communities while at the same time promoting conservation of the country’s exceptional biodiversity.
These trainings are part of the Lukautim Graun Program, a USAID funded environmental conservation program operating in the most diverse and vulnerable parts of Papua New Guinea. Empowering emerging female entrepreneurs with both business and environmental skills will increase income for rural families and reduce hunting and illegal wildlife trade. USAID PNG Lukautim Graun Program is implemented by Cardno International Development.
The Chief of Party for USAID PNG Lukautim Graun Program, Mr. Maurice Knight, signed a formal agreement to launch the trainings, implemented by Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion.
“Unless women and girls are empowered to fully participate in the economy, PNG will not be able to meet its development targets,” Maurice Knight said. “And for women, and men, to be fully enabled in the economy, PNG’s biodiversity and natural resources must be wisely managed so that current generations can meet their needs while not threatening the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The linkages are obvious.”
Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe, Executive Director for CEFI stated that “Financial inclusion is identified as an important priority in the implementation of CEFI’s third financial inclusion strategy which women and youth are important under the digital financial services and financial literacy and financial education.”
“This cooperation agreement between USAID Lukautim Graun Program and CEFI aligns with USAID’s 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy that affirms USAID’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful world in which women, girls, men, and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries,” said Julie Hulama, USAID Development Specialist.
“Our cooperation also aligns with CEFI’s financial inclusion strategy that prioritizes access to financial services for informal and small-scale enterprise development, SME Finance, resource sector engagement, and digital finance. The signing of this MOU comes at the perfect time as we draft our new policy for 2022-2026 in the first quarter of 2022, and as the Central Bank begins to draft the Green Finance Policy,” said Mr. Ellison Lw Pidik, Assistant Governor.
USAID aims to increase partnerships and private sector engagement and alliances to improve the incentives for biodiversity conservation and women’s empowerment. Emerging female entrepreneurs are seen as a powerful force for economic growth as well as environmental conservation in Papua New Guinea. USAID Lukautim Graun is already connecting women in rural and remote sites to banking services through agreements with BSP and MiBank and other private sector partners. Representatives of these financial institutions travel to the field with USAID Lukautim Graun Program staff and provide introductions to financial services provided by their banks and assist community members to open bank accounts in their respective institutions. Supporting this, the project works with the Department for Community Development, Sport and Religion, Civil Registry Division to issue official birth certificates and national identification cards required for opening bank accounts. The program begins in Madang and will expand to include Simbu, Jiwaka, Eastern Highlands Province and Morobe Province.
USAID Lukautim Graun is a $23 million US Dollar (80 million PKG) biodiversity and gender empowerment program that is being implemented through a consortium of partners led by Cardno. The partners include Care International, The Nature Conservancy, the PNG Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program (in the YUS Conservation Area), the Wildlife Conservation Society, and REAL Impact. Lukautim Graun Program implements its project at the national level and along the Bismarck Forest Corridor that covers Eastern Highlands Province, Jiwaka Province, Madang Province, Simbu Province, YUS Conservation Area in Morobe Province, and Milne Bay Province for the marine program.