Financial Inclusion Can Help Our Fishermen Too

  • A lot has been said about our fishermen this week on the hardships they face and how the introduction of the new fee increase will significantly affect their bottom line.  One of the interesting postings that we came across from a social media commentator was the financial hurdles fishermen face in order to get their catches to the market.  If you have a relative fishermen, you’ll know their experience.

    What we wanted to point out today was about Financial Inclusion – a term that’s steadily growing but needs the help of urbanites like you to spread the word out. It’s all good to point out the hardships of our rural folk, but wouldn’t it be better to go a step further and practically assist or educate in some way about this term?

    Understanding “Financial Inclusion” and how it can help our fishermen or any other wantok in the rural area for that matter can significantly assist them, their community and their business too.  Ultimately, it’s better to practically do something about the hardships we talk about than merely continuing to post and read thread after thread on social media.

    The World Bank sums up the definition of “Financial Inclusion” in a more clear and concise way:

    Financial inclusion means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.

    In the case of the “fish vendor fee” issue, one particular writer in outlining the hardships fishermen face listed the likely costs incurred in preparing for a fishing adventure.  The list which included fuel, snacks, ice, PMV fares from the village to town markets etc was indeed an eyeopener especially to those whose knowledge of fish is limited to the  fish in the market.

    Other commentators have also noted the risks of fishing in the high seas, the dilapidated fishing equipment and generally how the money made in a fishing trips is “eaten up” so quickly after sale.

    Subsistence farmers also face similar issues.

    So how can financial inclusion help the fishermen?

    Financial inclusion is not a miracle and it will not help solve all these problems overnight.  But what it can do is to help you have access to opportunities that could potentially help you and your business through the products and services available.

    Access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs

    Here are some useful products or services that are usually provided by micro-finance companies like MiBank who are focused solely on providing microfinance products and services:

    • Almost everyone has a mobile phone and with coverage extending far and wide across the country, having a transaction account like MiCash could come in handy by paying goods and services through your mobile.  It also avoids carrying large sums of money from the village to town and back. It’s safe and secure and all it is required is a phone, PIN and well, money in the account!
    • Loan products are also available.  With low interest rates and repayment terms that truly takes into consideration the circumstances of the fishermen or the farmer, there’s a good possibility that loan funds can be used to invest in the business ie. purchasing a dinghy, replacing the current outboard motor, a freezer, fishing net or any vital asset that helps in the business.  One of the fears of many rural people is that banks will shun them away because they value them less.  That is not true. Financial inclusion products and services are aimed specifically at the rural populace. Different products are targeted at different segments of the market. Do not fear!
    • Fishermen can grow their money instead of laying idle at home. There are some term deposit products available which customers can place money and earn interest on them. Just because you live in the rural areas, it doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in your own money in an interest bearing account.  Financial inclusion closes the gap in these areas too.

    There are other products some which include insurance products for fishermen or any other eligible customer to make use of to cover certain risks.

    Institutions like MiBank do not sit around hoping the rural populace come to them because the chances of that happening is low.  Financial inclusion is also about getting out there and educating the rural populace about the products and services available and how these products can be used to their benefit.  It’s more than providing a bank account or loan product.

    In Papua New Guinea, access to financial services is difficult largely because of the lack of infrastructure and of course the concerning illiteracy rate.  These issues add to poverty and it is one of the fundamentals of financial inclusion to break these barriers to improve life of individuals, businesses and the general rural community.

    Kina Bank’s recent partnership with MiBank is a also clear testament of just how important commercial banks, although not operating in the far rural areas, see in extending their services to these areas.  By partnering with those who have the experience and know-how like MiBank, technologically advanced digital products can also extend out to the rural populace like never before.

    Do your part and educate yourself and others about financial inclusion.  Our rural people need us and we need them too.

    Financial inclusion is a powerful tool – know about it and help those who need it, utilize it!

    A new MiCash agent has been established at Danbagl Village, in Simbu Province which will support onion farmers. Pic: MiBank

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