Women’s Micro Bank: empowering Papua New Guinean women one bank account at a time

Welcome,

After receiving its banking licence five years ago, Women’s Micro Bank Limited expects to deliver its first dividend in 2020. General Manager, Gunanidhi Das, tells Business Advantage PNG, the bank has 27,000 customers, and aims to have 30,000 next year.

Women’s Micro Bank staff visited poultry farmers at Markham Bridge in Morobe Province to talk about financial literacy. Credit: Women’s Micro Bank via Facebook

The Women’s Micro Bank Limited  (WMBL) has many success stories of women who’ve gone through the process of opening a savings account, putting money aside to build a savings profile, applying for a loan to start a small business and becoming a business success.

47-year-old Anna Goi was inspired by his older brother to open her own business. She’s one of WMBL first clients. Credit: WMBL

One such person is 47-year-old Anna Goi, who began selling tea and biscuits for 5 toea, at her 5t Store at Boroko in the early 2000s.

As the business grew, so did her ambitions. In 2014, she opened an account with WMBL, becoming one of its first clients.

‘The bank considers women entrepreneurs as the gateway to household stability.’

She took her first loan in 2015 for K500 and hasn’t looked back. ‘She has grown with the bank’, says WMBL’s General Manger, Gunanidhi Das. Goi is now operating a successful trade store called Goi Tradcred, selling general items and offering tailoring services.

Goi says she went into business because she wanted to be her own boss rather than working for someone else.

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She met the essential criteria to get a bank loan.

Issuing bank loans

Two women visit a WMB branch. Credit: Women’s Micro Bank via Facebook

‘We look at the savings culture of the person rather than looking for documents,’ Das tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘We believe that if a woman is depositing regularly, then she is doing something behind to deposit on a regular basis. We also look at five “Cs” for bigger loans—character, collateral, cash-flow, capital and condition of market.’

The bank considers women entrepreneurs as the gateway to household stability.

Das says international experience in the microfinance sector identifies women as better re-payers of loans than men, and women are more likely to share their benefits with other family members.

The bank makes loans either to a woman, to a male if he comes with his female partner, or to a Self-Reliance Group (SRG), where the women become mutual guarantors for each other.

It’s similar to how the world’s first micro bank, Grameen Bank, has been operating in Bangladesh for more than 40 years.

‘There are more than 13,000 women who are shareholders of this bank. It is always difficult to bring capital from our shareholders as they are all small holders.’

‘Grameen Bank works with women in a group mechanism,’ says Das.

‘They also encourage women to participate in informal activities. This makes a woman self-reliant.

‘Similarly, we are working with women to improve their livelihoods. We ensure the loans are going for productions rather than consumptions.

‘We use the group mechanism in rural areas, which makes repayments easier and we can build up a healthier loan portfolio.’

Challenges

In January this year, the Women’s Micro Bank launched the Mama Bank Access Point project. Credit: Daryl Mukar via Facebook

WMBL operates in seven locations. It has two branches in Port Moresby and Lae and five branchless access points in Morata, Madang, Wewak, Maprik and Goroka.

These Mama Bank Access Points (MAPs) operate using two staff, each equipped with a bio-metric system and a tablet-based banking application system, to sign up customers and offer basic financial services.

‘It means a woman can withdraw her money without coming with her passbook and at the same time nobody can withdraw her money without her consent.’

‘Loans range from K300 for women businesses in the informal sector, basically the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector and agriculture, to K300,000 for those who graduate from MSMEs to SMEs,’ says Das.

The challenges WMBL faces include lack of capital to expand and loan defaults (even though they don’t want to be a defaulter). Unlike similar banks in India and Bangladesh, he says, PNG does not have field officers who regularly visit clients.

‘Das expects the bank to have 30,000 active customers by the end of 2020.’

‘There are more than 13,000 women who are shareholders of this bank. It is always difficult to bring capital from our shareholders as they are all smallholders.

‘We opened up our shares last year to our own customers, with the aim of raising K7 million, but could only raise K2 million.’

WMBL has partnered with other organisations such as the San Francisco-based non-profit KIVA, the Leprosy Mission and the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) to get adequate funding for its loan demand.

‘We have big ambitions for the next two years,’ he says.

By the end of 2020, says Das, he expects the bank to have 30,000 active customers, break even, issue a small dividend, be fee-less and be a ‘bank of choice’ for all savers and households.

Comments

  1. Maria Pawa says

    Explain the requirements and eligibility criteria for salary loan

  2. Josephine Landime says

    I need a opening a new account form from the Womens Micro Bank

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