OREANDA-NEWS. Over 4,000 people from Vanimo in the West Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) graduated today from the financial education training program conducted under the Microfinance Expansion Project. The project is supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Governments of Australia and PNG.

Ellison Pidik, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea (BPNG) and Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Microfinance Expansion Project, presented the graduates with their certificates at a ceremony attended by representatives from BPNG, the provincial government, and other project steering committee members.

“The financial education training that was conducted by the project will help people make better decisions on how they make and spend money,” said Mr. Pidik. “The graduates now have the knowledge and skills which will allow them to be part of the financial sector, and financial services will be more accessible to them.”

The Microfinance Expansion Project was designed to increase financial inclusion in PNG by improving people’s knowledge of and access to financial services, targeting financial literacy education for 130,000 people across the country by the end of 2017. This target has already been achieved, with financial education reaching over 190,000 people—40% of whom are women. It also supports partner financial institutions in their efforts to roll out suitable financial services.

“The project is delivering financial education and providing better access to financial services, which is changing people’s lives for the better in PNG,” said Emma Fan, Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office in Sydney. “It allows more people in PNG to contribute to the economic development of the country.”

The Microfinance Expansion Project was launched in April 2012, with BPNG as the executing agency and MicroSave as technical partner. The Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion was incorporated as part of the project’s outputs and is the main agency for coordinating financial inclusion and financial education initiatives in PNG.