Samoa leads the Pacific islands in women inclusion in financial development

Faleasiu village women center participate in the The South Pacific Development Program Women Business of the Year annual event

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 11 JUNE 2018: Samoa is ahead of other Pacific islands in women inclusion in financial and empowering for financial development.

This was confirmed by the General Manager of the Bank South Pacific (BSP), Taitu’uga Maryann Lameko-Va’ai, who was a panelist in the session where the issue of “Women’s Financial Inclusion & Economic Empowerment’ was discussed in last week’s Pacific Islands Regional Initiatives (PIRI) conference at the Taumeasina Island Resort.

Taitu’uga said statistically for Samoa, there is a higher proportion of women who have bank accounts, and women who participate in financial products both in the formal and informal sectors.

“There is also a report that indicates that Samoan women are more competent managers of finance in households particularly for the low income families,” said Taitu’uga.

Representatives from various local financial institutions agreed with Taitu’uga that Samoan women are not afraid to take risks in investing in small businesses.

Such examples is evident in the high number of women taking out unsecured loans from the South Pacific Development Program (SPDP), and the programme has acknowledged the achievement of these women in its annual business award event, recognizing the success of home and village based projects driven by women.

Bank South Pacific’s General Manager, Taitu’uga Maryanne Lameko-Va’ai

According to the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program report, despite the progress that has been made in advancing financial inclusion globally, women remain disproportionately excluded from the formal financial system.

Statistics also show that 65% of women globally have an account compared with 72% of men, but for Samoa, women are leading the way.

PIRI is now committed to finding ways to close this gap and the ideas presented at the meeting were for the financial industry to “broaden financial access and improve the quality of financial services through efficiency.”

Taitu’uga believes that the reason behind the inclusion of this session in the meeting agenda was because there is a big opportunity to use the programs that Samoa has already implemented with women to push for financial literacy and financial inclusion.

“A gap of seven percentage points that is all but unchanged since 2011,” says the report.

The report also stated that Regulators in the Pacific are recognizing this disruption in the financial technology and offers great opportunities for developing and emerging economies to significantly drive the uptake of Digital Financial Services and leapfrog into new tech solutions.

Also discussed at the meeting were challenges of moving from physical cash to digital, and Enabling Infrastructure to propel digital innovations.