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ANZ Corporate Responsibility Interim Report 2010

Interim Report CR 2010

Micro-savings helps build prosperity in Fiji

Micro-savings helps build prosperity in Fiji

Our rural banking service in Fiji has played a significant role in improving financial inclusion and household wellbeing according to a United Nations report.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Providing the rural banking service and financial education program in combination proved an effective and useful model for initiatives seeking to build financial capability
  • Villagers who have access to banking services and financial education are more likely to have a cash surplus to re-invest in their farm or business
  • There is a positive relationship between a household’s wellbeing and its ability to manage spending and re-invest the surplus. This wellbeing is generally based on the husband’s ability to generate agricultural income and the wife’s ability to manage the household cash flows.

The study also found that households which did not participate in the financial literacy training tended to underestimate household expenditure and were less likely to re-invest in further income generation, such as agricultural supplements, farm implements, livestock and irrigated farmland.

Speaking at the report's launch in Suva, Fiji, the NDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator, Knut Ostby, said that women’s financial literacy and access to banking services had a major role to play in lifting families out of poverty.

“It is apparent from the report that the combination of financial literacy and access to reliable financial services has a direct impact on helping to lift communities out of poverty. It provides households with the ability to manage their resources to provide funds for education, food, electricity, water, improved sanitary conditions and medical services,” said Mr Ostby.

ANZ CEO Fiji and Pacific Central, Norman Wilson, said: “Building financial capability is one of our corporate responsibility priorities and providing banking services for more than 70,000 customers who live in remote villages and communities in Fiji is one of the ways we can contribute to this.

“We issued 400 micro-loans in the first three years of operating rural banking services in Fiji. An example includes funding trucks that enabled villagers in Fiji’s interior to sell their garden produce in major centres, allowing them to save for a loan deposit for their own vehicles.”

ANZ launched its rural banking service in Fiji in October 2004 providing regular, face-to-face services to more than 300 communities and 170 schools across the islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Tavenui and Kadavu. Purpose built trucks that travel between remote villages provide basic banking services such transactions and savings accounts.

Our rural banking service has been extended to other Pacific island countries where we operate and the service now supports more than 85,000 people throughout Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu. We are currently exploring opportunities to use mobile phones as a lower cost and more convenient distribution model.

The report on Financial Capability, Financial Competence and Wellbeing in Rural Fijian Households published by the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme, measured the financial competence of rural Indigenous Fijian villagers, the impact of ANZ’s rural banking services, and a rural financial literacy program developed and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Pacific Centre.

The study was conducted by the UNDP Pacific Centre in conjunction with Massey University, New Zealand and the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprise Development.

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