Women in Shortland Islands expand financial scheme

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BY GEORGINA KEKEA

WOMEN in rural areas are participating more in economic activities then before.

In the rural areas of Shortland Islands, Savings Club are growing and gaining momentum with the latest being the inception of a loan component for Maleai Maliluana Talaiba Savings Club.

Coordinator of the Women’s Saving Club in Shortland Islands, Mrs Angellah Kingmele-Anisi says the financial scheme was established with the intention to help women save their money.

Anisi says these financial schemes are growing despite the challenges faced in remote areas like Shortland Islands.

“It is a bit difficult and we find it hard to send money via plane most times especially security wise. So what we’ve done is that the monies are left for the women to manage themselves. Mobile banking is an option but again poor network communication is an obstacle.”

From left, Ms Angeline Tony (Chairlady, MMTSG), Mr Dominic Bakele,
Assistant Chief, Maleai village and Dr Alice Pollard (Faciliatator, WARA).

Anisi says for the women of Maleai, they have been saving their money for three years already. She said apart from the loan scheme which they have just launched last week, withdrawal of money saved is another component of the saving club.

She said nowadays, people in the rural areas rely heavily on cash to buy goods and services thus this financial scheme has been very

helpful.

“The West Areare Rokotanikeni Association (WARA) has assisted to establish the Savings group three years ago. Through our network with WARA, we managed to secure $10,000 funding from Strongim Bisnis. In addition to that $10K, we also received a funding of $10,000 from Chief Edward Kingmele from their own community funds of Chiefs. In total, the women have $20,000 in total towards their loan scheme.”

Anisi says 80 percent of members’ withdrawals from women in the savings club went towards school fees for their children.

Chairlady (Ms Angeline Tony) of Maleai Maliluana Talaiba Savings Group receiving funds for their loan from Assistant Chief of Maleai, Mr Dominic Bakele.

However she said the loan scheme is mainly for business activities.

“Because with the loan they have to pay back with a 10 percent interest so they need to have an income generating activity to repay their loan.”

She said school fees do not fall under the loan category but rather in the withdrawal category where women can withdraw up to 80 percent of their savings.

While Solomon Islands is reported to have a low literacy level, the inclusion and participation of women in Shortland Islands in these financial activities speaks highly of resilience.

With limited access to communication, technology and banking services, these more than 150 women continued to strive.

The financial trainings they receive are adequate for them to carry out their financial and economic activities.

“I saw that their level of understanding in financial terms has improved a lot. They can now place names to the activities that they normally do. Like interest, income, expense are words which they can now relate to the activities of ‘buying and selling’ they do every day.”

Members of MMTSG participating in a refresher Financial Literacy training conducted by Dr Alice Pollard, WARA.

She said women in rural areas once given the right training will be able to work hard for themselves.

Anisi said it is also encouraging to see these women participate in such activities.

“Most times we talk in policy level that we forget those in the rural areas that lack access to services. We feel encouraged that we have done something for the women and we feel that we have a purpose in life.”

The savings club scheme for women in Maleai Maliluan Talaiba was initiated by Chief Edward Kingmele. Most of the work done for the savings club comes mainly from his family in conjunction with WARA, through Dr Alice Pollard.

With the assistance of WARA, another Savings Club was established in Toumoa, also in Shortland Islands recently.

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