WEWAK, PAPUA NEW GUINEA (31 May 2019) — More than 3,200 people graduated today from a financial education training program conducted under the Microfinance Expansion Project (MEP), a project supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The Manager of the Bank of Papua New Guinea’s (BPNG) Financial Systems Development, Mr. George Awap, presented the graduates with their certificates at a ceremony attended by representatives from BPNG, the provincial government, and other project steering committee members.

The graduates all hail from Wewak, the capital of PNG’s East Sepik Province.

“The project has substantially delivered basic financial knowledge to huge numbers of rural people in Papua New Guinea,” said the Regional Director of ADB’s Pacific Liaison and Coordination Office Ms. Emma Fan. “It has allowed people, particularly women, the opportunity to open bank accounts, do mobile banking from market gardens, and, overall, get better access to financial services.”

The 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 more than 215,000 people—48% of whom are women. It also supports partner financial institutions in their efforts to roll out suitable financial services for women and people in rural areas.

The Microfinance Expansion Project was launched in April 2012, with BPNG as the executing agency. The Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion, the main agency for coordinating financial inclusion and financial education initiatives in PNG, is supported by the project.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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