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The Microfinance Expansion Project is strengthening industry regulation and boosting the capacity of lenders to deliver a wider range of financial services and products in rural areas, with a focus on lending, savings, and remittance products to micro and small enterprises, and especially to women.The first microbank to be licensed in PNG is the biggest microfinance bank in the country and the South Pacific.
The microfinance industry is growing rapidly in some of the most remote and poorest regions of the country.Once a couple (or their families) decide to marry the groom's family is expected to pay the bride's family money (along with pigs and shells) and the bride is expected to work as requested by her husband.At many weddings in Papua New Guinea most women wear grass aprons without a shirt and prior to the wedding the men and women divide into two groups. Both men and women paint their faces with details symbolic of the clan and this process, especially for the bride and groom can take hours to complete.Mi Bank launched Mi Cash in 2011, the first bank-led deployment of mobile money in the Pacific. People can use Mi Cash to save money and pay bills. Kobo Davana, a 42-year-old mother of five, finds Mi Cash easy to use.Through it she has learned to manage more wisely the money she earns from her vegetable garden. Women’s Micro Bank is also a partner of the Microfinance Expansion Project. “We have migrated nearly 10,000 women customers from the nongovernmental organization that the bank emerged from,” says CEO Hewapathirana.
The Bank of PNG, the country’s central bank, confirms that it has licensed no less than five microbanks to date. Fifteen years ago, more than 90% of PNG’s population of about five million had no access to financial services of any kind.