Women’s Micro Bank Limited (WMBL) rebranded as the Mama Bank received its banking business license from the Central Bank of PNG in May 2014. WMBL is a fully women community owned licensed Micro Bank regulated by Bank of PNG.
The WMBL is the first women’s Micro Bank in PNG and the Pacific region and ranked 5th deposit taking licensed Micro Bank in PNG. The Bank is also 6th Women deposit taking Bank in the world and also as one of the best 50 companies for women among APEC countries. Currently it has a clientele of more than 30,000 with 7 access points and expanding throughout PNG and is the only financial institution with an explicit focus on women in PNG.
Women’s Micro Bank Limited is the only financial institution in PNG with an explicit focus on women and their immediate families. The Bank was set up as a subsidiary in April 2010, with the objective of providing Financial and Business Development Skills (BDS) to women in poverty in Papua New Guinea and empowering them with enhanced income prospects for the families and communities, and thereby improve the quality of their lives.
The parent company is PNG Women in Business Limited, an association which was formed to represent the interest of all women in Papua New Guinea as a civil society or a non-government organization with a mission to make a positive and significant contribution to alleviate poverty of women in PNG. The overall objective is to promote an all-inclusive women and their families to become financially independent, and emancipates them socially and economically so that the women can realize their potential in PNG societal structure and thereby making them equal partnership in Nation building through sharing responsibilities as their male counterpart is a positive policy in recognition of the women’s social and economic responsibilities in their respective families, communities and the Nation through a reliable and affordable Banking and financial services offered by WMBL (Mama Bank).
Over half a decade of firsthand experience gained through working closely with its members, WMBL (Mama Bank) had realized that reduction of poverty and vulnerability is a long-term process and there is no evidence around the world that this has been achieved though short-term interventions. It is a well-established act that only programs that can demonstrate long term commitment can effectively and sustainably affect social and economic enrichment of communities. With this in mind, WMBL in 2010 began a program to extend Micro Financial services to women on a pilot basis, creating an opportunity for women to re-gain their identity and dignity and be self-reliant. This Microfinance initiative, even on a small scale was important to its members as existing formal financial service providers were reluctant to provide credit facilities or financial services. Particularly, loans to customers originating from disadvantaged rural areas and also the semi urban areas with a high risk, who do not have access to affordable financial services or substantial collateral to start up and scale up micro enterprises was practically inaccessible.
However, a shareholder driven development organization like WMBL, pursues a broad range of objectives originating from a holistic vision that is based on the sound understanding that the provision of only one kind of service, be it credit or marketing or other social service, was not sufficient to tackle the root causes of poverty. As a result of increasing customers and resultant demand for loans by members, WMBL needed to expand its financial services to the next level in the form of a Microfinance Institution with adequate infrastructure, and logistics which include office facilities, motor vehicles, management procedures, professional staff and sufficient capital stock.
Against this background, Women’s Micro Bank was established in 2010 and rebranded Mama Bank to provide reliable and affordable financial services to thousands of women in PNG.