24 September 2015
A Big Week for Financial Inclusion
I was honoured to participate this week in Pacific Microfinance Week 2015, which was hosted for the first time in Solomon Islands. The week has been a great opportunity to showcase Solomon Islands’ international leadership on financial inclusion, under the strong leadership of Central Bank Governor Denton Rarawa.
Under Governor Rarawa’s watch, over 170,000 Solomon Islanders have opened bank accounts for the first time. And in partnership with the commercial banks, mobile banking services have been rolled out across the country at an astonishing rate. I’m proud of the supporting role Australia has played to enable this financial revolution, through our contribution of A$7 million in funding since 2013.
On Tuesday evening, I participated in the launch of the Financial Services Demand Side Services Report, a study which gives voice to the current and future customers of financial products and services in Solomon Islands. The report shows how far financial services have now reached into Solomon Islands’ provinces. And it also shows that challenges of access remain for rural communities, especially women. We know that enabling more women to bank and save has real gains across the community, and I’m pleased that this will be a focus of future work in financial inclusion.
The week also saw the first Solomon Islands Women’s Micro-Entrepreneur Awards. Recognising the achievements of three remarkable business women, the awards highlighted for me that Solomon Islands has a wealth of wonderful roles models for what is possible with hard work, talent and determination.
Congratulations to all involved in supporting Pacific Microfinance Week 2015.
My staff at the High Commission are working hard (and I’m training hard!) to prepare for the upcoming G’Day Solomon Islands Fun Run. With only two weeks to go until the Fun Run on 10 October, I encourage readers to register at the Australian High Commission. The first 4000 entries will receive a FREE G’Day Solomon Islands Fun Run t-shirt.
The Fun Run has already generated a lot of interest amongst the Honiara community.
We’ve had hundreds of people flooding to the Australian High Commission to register for the event. Most of them look like they’ll be a lot faster than me, so I suspect I’ll be somewhere down the back of the field on 10 October!
But that’s OK. The Fun Run is about promoting a healthy lifestyle and is something that all people can join, regardless of your age or fitness level. It’ll be a fun, family-oriented day. I hope to see you there!