Women’s Micro Bank Limited (WMB), branded as MAMA BANK has taken a step further to support coffee farmers in the highlands region through a Memorandum of Agreement signed with Agro Dev Trade Limited (ADT), enabling the coffee farmers to have easy access to financial services, particularly imbibing savings culture for their better future and access to credit facility offered by MAMA BANK to upscale their coffee farming activities. The signing was witnessed Vice Minister for Coffee and Member for Daulo Open Hon. Pongio Ghate, representative from World Bank, CIC, DAL, UNCDF (PFIP), CEFI and key management from ADT and WMB.
WMB and ADT recognize that ordinary rural farmers of the of the highlands region which covers Jiwaka, WHP, EHP, SHP, Enga and Hela should have affordable and adequate financial inclusion products and services such as demand driven savings product, term deposits, access to finance to enable them to play a more active role in the economic development and contribution of their provinces and country.
WMB and ADT are prepared to consider the provision of credit facilities to coffee growers who are unable to provide security of a type or in an amount which Commercial Banks would in the normal course of its operations, otherwise require. With this agreement, WMB and ADT will initiate and establish Coffee Value Chain Rehabilitation Scheme in order to assist the ordinary people endeavoring to participate more in to coffee production activities in a sustainable way. To begin with, WMB and ADT agreed to pilot the scheme in Dei district of Western Highland Province and in Kainatu district of Eastern Highland Province. After successful piloting, this scheme can be replicated in other part of the highlands region. Through this agreement ADT will act as an AGENT of WMB to facilitate financial inclusion product and services in their operating area through a cashless model.
During the ceremony held at WMB Head Office in Port Moresby, the chairman of WMB Mr Ricky Mitio highlighted the importance of financial education to the coffee farmers and both WMB with Agro Dev Trade Limited looks beyond the horizon by filling the gaps of overlooking agriculture commodities that contributes significantly in the nation’s GDP from which constitute 80 percent of Papua New Guineans who survive through agriculture-based activities. “Coffee is one of the most important cash crops in Papua New Guinea, with export revenues consistently topping US$100 million per annum. Referencing back, the total coffee production for 2016 was nearly 1.2 million 60-kg bags (70,260 tonnes). Globally, PNG is ranked 18th in the world for coffee production for 2016/2017. Therefore, this agreement is very significant for the country as highlands region is the leading coffee producing region for PNG. Coffee is a sustainable product. Coffee is here and going to stay here. Proper management of income from coffee will give financial self-confidence and security to all farmers” said Mr. Mitio.
Managing Director of ADT, Mr. Jacob Taru, welcomed the move by Mama Bank as ADT have been trying to find ways to improve production to a sustainable level. “All the studies have been done” he said. “We know that the key to driving production growth for farmers’ lies in with availability of capital which can only be achieved through a strong savings culture and equipment availability to increase the size of their farms, which obviously is the access to funds that banks can provide to support farmers. One of the main objectives of this agreement is to uplift the production of coffee by provision of appropriate and easily accessible savings and small loans to coffee farmers to improve existing small income generating agriculture activities. Coffee Farmers must see Coffee for what it is called Money Tree. Saving and reinvesting coffee money back to coffee is the only way to survive. Linking with a lead firm to go together targeting specialty coffee market is the goal. A win-win for all.” Said Mr Taru.
The agreement encompassed the top-down institutional planning and bottom-up operational activity through ADT, creating a single framework with clear coordination and provision of inclusive financial product and services for coffee farmers, enabling them to demand driven savings product, access the credit facility to boost their farming activities and financial literacy training services offered by WMB.
The CEO of WMB Mr Gunanidhi Das on his closing remarks explained further that the Women’s Micro Bank is trying to implement the real microfinance concept in the country. Empowering and building the financial capacity of Papua New Guinea farmers through group mechanism with demand driven savings product and easy access to credit facilities will see an Economy of Scale for Agri-Value Chain Businesses, resulting in a sound Savings Culture leading towards a greater impact in their lives in terms of financial independence so that every person can be able to make informed decisions in meeting their personal as well as their family’s current and future needs. He further emphasized that the real economic empowerment of this country is possible through women economic empowerment. The agreement will leads to empower the women and their family in highlands region.
He thanked ADT to come onboard to allow a partnership to facilitate access to financial services that is very viable and important to their farmers. In acknowledging the ADT, the CEO of WMB advice all the farmers to form in small self-reliance groups or small farmer’s producer group to help each other and become the catalyst for growth for their family and for the nation. Further imbibe a savings culture among Coffee growers and creating a reputable credit history is the aim of WMB.
He further emphasized that Savings should be the first Expenditure of Income not last. He also requested all the Farmers to come and do banking with their own bank with innovative savings products and simple loan products. Recently BANK has come up with biometric enabled technology solutions where in all the MAMA’s money is safe from fraudulent activities and urge all the MAMA to register their finger prints as early as possible to safe guard their hard earn money.
Meet Mrs. Elizabeth Tandapi, an informal table market woman developed into a businesswoman through Women’s Micro Bank.
“The dream that I had since day one is a dream come true today, from table market to trade store, taxi service and rental property.” Testified Elizabeth Tandapi, one of the pioneer customers of Women’s Micro Bank.
Hailing from Enga Province, Elizabeth Tandapi is one of the pioneers of WMB. Her dream was to become a businesswoman when she joined Women in Business Foundation (WIBF) in 2009 inspired by the charismatic lady Late Janet Sape. At that time Elizabeth was doing informal table market in Port Moresby to support her family. Using a small 100 cm by 100 cm table, she was selling dough nuts, ice blocks to sustain her livelihood. From the little earnings, she budgeted for her family’s food and did her savings with WIB with a dream to become a successful businesswoman. Elizabeth was one of the first customers (19th Customer, Meri Moni Savings Account number 00019) to open bank account with WMB after attaining the license from BPNG in May 2014.
Following the legacy of Late Ms. Janet Sape, Elizabeth stood firm, committed and worked hard towards achieving her dream. In 2014, Elizabeth’s savings was more than K10, 000 in her savings account when she obtained her first loan of K10, 000 in August 2014. Valuing the savings culture she hesitate to withdraw her money and obtained a loan which she used and built a trade store and migrated from table market to trade store by selling all grocery items. Elizabeth’s motivation began to rise and she envisioned how she will develop her entrepreneurial ambitions. With that motivation, Elizabeth repaid her loan accordingly as per the loan repayment schedule without any defaults. During the tenure of WIB, she has already got three small loans to support her table market so had the knowhow of loan repayments.
“It was my dream to become a businesswoman and to become equal with men given the challenges we womenfolk in PNG face daily as men tend to consider us as inferiors even though we contribute a lot in the family. So I want to break that cultural barrier and be equal with men by becoming a successful businesswoman,” said emotional Elizabeth. She explained that just after one year from the first loan of K10, 000, she used part of the proceeds to purchase a second-hand taxi to run a taxi service in Port Moresby.
On March 2016, Elizabeth obtained her second loan of K25, 000 with an ambition to scale up her business, which she ventured into building a five (5) bedroom rental house. She said that she haven’t been to any formal education or business courses, however, with the Financial Literacy Trainings and Business Development Skills Training that she obtained from WMB, she is able to manage and run her business. She paid off the loan within schedule time and doing savings regularly to obtain a bigger loan upscale and diversify her business. Elizabeth is now running a trade store, a taxi, rental house and recently she purchased a land. Elizabeth’s plan is to upscale her trade store into a mini shop, build two (2) more rental houses and build a proper parking bay for her taxi and purchase one more. During covid-19 lockdown period she took a small loan of K2, 000 to support her business cash flow and has confessed the importance of savings culture that embeds WMB’s business philosophy as experienced now where all the women are happily using their savings money during this covid-19 lockdown period. Elizabeth plan to take up another loan when the Covid-19 situation improves so she can continue on with building up her business. When asked what would be her best advice to other women, smiling Elizabeth said “Simple, start small, have a goal, work hard, seek fund support from our own Bank, honor your commitment, stick to one bank who can be in your help at any time and rest will follow suit. Like me, “from table market to trade store, taxi service and now rental property.”