Papua New Guinea: Simbu Women in Business
Catherine Mur, pbvm of the Presentation Sisters in Papua New Guinea shares the success of the ‘women in business’ program which is working with more than 500 village women in some of the poorest and remote communities of the central highlands region. Low interest loans have been provided to over half of the women and living standards for women and children have noticeably improved.
The three wise women of Kup saw the needs of the women and children in the densely populated area of Chimbu Province in the Highlands Region of Papua New Guinea. The three women knew and foresaw that the people would be facing difficulties in a cash economy.
In order for their people not to be stranded, these women carried out a feasibility study in many parts of the remotest areas in Chimbu. A local businessman offered to raise funds to have capital before helping the women start their project. They raised K10, 000 (US$ 3,153) to start. The main objective of Simbu Women in Business is to sustain a living for the majority and to empower women, children and family.
SWIB negotiated with commercial banks in the country and eventually created a financial relationship with the Meri Plus Bank with accounts only for the women. Each woman registered as a member and opened an account to save money from her small business, eventually depositing a total of K40.00 per woman. Interestingly many of these women are illiterate women in the village. There is no deduction or bank charge and the interest rate is good. All the elected members in each district in the province support the women to put in a good amount into the bank so that that these women can get a loan to start their small business.
The women can get a loan of k100.00 when they have K30.00 in their account. They pay to the bank K2.00 every month to repay their loan. It is a very low percentage interest. I meet with these women once a month to discuss their small businesses and the guidelines and policies of the Meri Plus Bank. These women have made an immense difference in the lives of the people in their community.
These women have projects such as:
- Breeding fish
- Sales of mini goods
Another communal effort will be to strengthen the assistance to school-age children to acquire a Basic Formal Education.
Furthermore, the Meri Plus Bank also helps to fund school fees for their children not at a primary level through the tertiary level. The Meri Plus Bank has helped many women in the village to live a better life and continues to help them solve many of their problems. This initiative is empowering our women to be more innovative in their daily lives. The living standard in the village has improved in the family and community. Thank you to the Meri Plus for the wonderful work done in the densely populated area in the Province.
The service providers have brought the service to the remotest part of the Province and to the unfortunate women, children and families who live there. There are about five thousand women in the province and many women are now engaged with the Meri Plus Bank in doing many good works at the village level. The youth and especially the men are supporting the women in their small business.
The vision of the Simbu Women in Business is:
“Empowering women, children and family to sustain a better living through effort and prepare Human Resources for our future benefit.”
The women in my area are now looking forward to building a community center where they can host skills training for the group. They all cooperate, whether young or old, in a common venture to derive a profitable income and reinvest in Human Resources.
I am so proud to work with these women and see the changes in their small business. They started small and now they are making a good living.
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