Sydney, Australia August 26, 2010—IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group, today launched the Pacific Microfinance
Initiative to improve access to basic financial services, particularly
for women, rural households, and enterprises in Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste,
and the Pacific Islands.
The Australian government is providing 9.5 million Australian dollars toward
the total cost of the four-year, 12.3 million Australian dollar ($11.3
The initiative will improve the ability of microfinance institutions and
other financial service providers to efficiently deliver financial services
to Pacific Island communities lacking access to money, loans, and business
banking services. Estimates suggest that less than 20 percent of adults
in the Pacific have access to financial services.
“Together with the Australian government, IFC will help expand loans,
savings, and other basic financial services in the Pacific,” said Karin
Finkelston, IFC Director for East Asia and Pacific. “The goal is to allow
households and businesses to transition from every day survival to establishing
businesses that are sustainable in the long term.”
IFC will provide performance-based grants and business advice to financial
service providers so that they can better reach communities in isolated
areas. IFC will help participating providers, including banking and microfinance
institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and nontraditional financial
service partners, such as mobile phone and agribusiness companies, develop
business plans with measureable expansion targets. Grant disbursement will
be contingent on meeting the pre-agreed performance targets.
The initiative also will work with governments to improve the regulatory,
legislative, and financial infrastructure to broaden financial inclusion
in the region.
IFC’s first partner under the initiative is the South Pacific Business
Development Microfinance Network, whose customers are mainly women micro-entrepreneurs.
The South Pacific Business Development Microfinance Network anticipates
that it will significantly broaden its outreach over the next few years
from its current 12,000 member base by developing new products and expanding
credit, savings, and insurance services.
The launch of the initiative comes after the first private sector dialogue
at the Pacific Islands Forum earlier this month where companies and donor
partners, including IFC, discussed with government officials ways of improving
financial services in the region.
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, is the largest global development
institution focused on the private sector in developing countries. We create
opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives. We do
so by providing financing to help businesses employ more people and supply
essential services, by mobilizing capital from others, and by delivering
advisory services to ensure sustainable development. In a time of global
economic uncertainty, our new investments climbed to a record $18 billion
in fiscal 2010. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
For more information about the Australian government’s Overseas Aid Program
(AusAID), visit www.ausaid.gov.au.
For more information about the South Pacific Business Development Microfinance
Network visit www.spbd.ws