7 June 2011

Microbanking in PNG

A widow and small-time coffee grower in remote Papua New Guinea province is one of thousands of customers benefiting from a successful microbank focused on the needs of the poor.

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea - It took almost half a century for Tommie Seriate to open her first bank account. Prior to walking into a branch of Nationwide Microbank in May 2011, this 49-year-old subsistence farmer from the rural Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea kept her earnings buried in the ashes of the fireplace where she cooked food for her family. Saving proved difficult. A widow with four children and eight grandchildren, Ms. Seriate was often tempted to dig up the hearth to meet family needs. Then one day she heard a presentation given by Nationwide Microbank representatives in the local market. Ms. Seriate had tried in the past to open bank accounts with other commercial banks but found their account opening process too difficult. But what she heard that day in the marketplace encouraged her to try again.