Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Nationwide Microfinance deposits soar up to K70 million

Nationwide Microbank has deposits of about K70 million and a loan book of about K25 million to serve its more than 100,000 customers, according to managing director Tony Westaway.
He told The National yesterday (Monday, June 25) that from humble beginnings in 2004, starting as the Wau Microbank in Morobe province, it had since grown to become the bank with the second-largest customer base after Bank South Pacific, mainly focusing on grassroots people in the most-remote areas of PNG.
“Our deposits are roughly K70 million at the moment, our loan book is approximately K25 million,” Westaway said.
“We provide the opportunity for people to park their money.
“One of the most-difficult things for Papua New Guineans is to access financial services, indeed, to open a bank account.
“A lot of our customers have had difficulty in opening (commercial) bank accounts.”
All that is needed to open up an account with Nationwide Microbank is a letter from the village councilor or pastor.
“On the lending side, we provide loans for hatcheries, bakeries, farmers, transport,” Westaway said.
“We provide the whole gamut of financial services.
“We’re also doing a lot of developments in micro insurance and, hopefully, we will have a micro insurance product launched on the market place this year.
“One of the initiatives that we’re putting a lot of emphasis on is women’s banking.

Women queuing up at Boera village in the LNG project area to open MiCash accounts.-Picture courtesy of NATIONWIDE MICROBANK
“In February this year we appointed Gima Kepi as manager – women’s banking.
“We’re doing a lot of financial literacy training with women.
“We work with the likes of the Salvation Army and women’s groups, particularly from here in Central province, through the four villages around the PNG LNG plant site.”
Westaway said Nationwide Microbank started as an Asian Development Bank project in 2004, supported by the government of PNG and AusAid.
“Through this project, ADB had done a survey on microfinance in PNG and had realised it needed to contribute to people from the formal sector to the informal sector microfinance.
“So they created a pilot project up in Wau.
“This pilot became quite successful.
“It was called Wau Microbank.
“People driving the project and the Central Bank were quite excited and wanted to roll out the project across the country.
“So we changed the name from Wau Microbank to Nationwide Microbank to better represent the geographical spread.
“We now have 12 branches across PNG and we have 24 agents.
“We have over 100,000 customers, which is quite significant because this is the second-largest customer base after BSP.”

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