Banking the Unbanked in Fiji: The ANZ Bank and UNDP Partnership

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Project ID

Project Title

Banking the Unbanked in Fiji: The ANZ Bank and UNDP Partnership

Type

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Lead Organization(s)

UNDP/RBAS

Project Partners

Financing

Timeframe

Status

Project website(s)

Contacts

Jeff Liew (jeff.liew@undp.org), Chief Technical Adviser of the UNDP Pacific Regional Sustainable Livelihoods Programme, based in Suva, Fiji

For info on ANZ Rural Banking: Carolyn Blacklock (blackloc@anz.com), Regional Executive, Banking the Unbanked in the Pacific

Contents

Description

UNDP’s engagement with the private sector in the Pacific is aimed at forging sustainable partnerships for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The 2004 release of the report "Unleashing Entrepreneurship – Making Business Work for the Poor" by the Commission on the Private Sector and Development has provided both impetus and direction to further energize UNDP’s role in facilitating partnerships with the private sector that have clear pro-poor outcomes.

The UNDP and ANZ Bank Partnership for Banking the Unbanked in the Pacific is a tangible example of a substantive partnership aimed at pooling the respective strengths of each partner to devise viable and innovative banking services to the approximately 6 million people, living in both urban but largely rural communities, who have no access to financial services.

The atached paper focuses on the experiences of the Fiji Rural Banking service which was launched in October 2004.

Chapters fo the Report: Role of Private Sector and UNDP in Fiji Rural Banking System, Outcome, (Early) Lessons, Way Forward ...

Expected Outcomes

Achievements: Results and Impact

Lessons for Replication

a. Creative Thinking: It required both partners to think out of the box. ANZ Bank to come up with a solution to what is widely considered an unviable market. UNDP needed to find a mechanism to partner with a commercial partner without jeopardizing its mandated neutrality. The partnership solidified quickly as both ANZ Bank and UNDP shared the same objectives and recognized each others strengths. Both partners recognize the importance of continual monitoring and learning to stay ahead of potential glitches as well as to identify new opportunities.

b. The Right People: Having the right people to drive the partnership is seen as critical. The rural banking manager of ANZ Bank, supported by senior management, understood the longer term strategy of stimulating the growth of the rural economy. The UNDP project manager understood the commercial realities of the private sector and was able to find mutually acceptable solutions to marry hard financial imperatives with that of social capital formation.

c. The Importance of Financial Literacy: Providing a banking service to a population who are under-exposed to modern financial instruments and services is like giving books to people without teaching them how to read. This aspect of the partnership was recognized by ANZ Bank as critical to its decision to bank the rural communities. The financial literacy training programme, designed and supported by UNDP, is being implemented with the National Microfinance Unit, respective Provincial Councils and other NGO partners. It is a 4-hour village-based training in the local vernacular covering the following topics: Understanding your financial situation; Understand how you earn and spend; Setting goals and priorities; Planning a household budget; Why and how to save; How can Microfinance and banks help you; Preparing a savings plan;
The financial literacy training is generic in nature and is progressively being extended to all the 1,200 rural villages and settlements in the country – many of which are accessible only by bamboo rafts and horseback. It is also the first time that such training has been carried out in the rural areas. The cost of such public education, especially to rural and remote communities, is relative high. Development agencies can play a key role by supporting financial literacy training.

d. People Focused: Participatory needs assessment and wide consultation was a critical element in designing both a responsive banking and financial literacy training programme. This process cannot be compromised. The overwhelming response and participation by rural communities in the banking service and financial training is a direct result of attentive listening to the people.

e. MFIs and Banks working towards an Inclusive Financial Sector: From the outset, the rural banking service was seen as a threat by Microfinance organizations that looked at the bank as undermining their client base. The bank saw advantages in working with MFIs and UNDP is actively identifying linkages between MFIs and the bank. Despite these efforts, MFIs continue to work in isolation and, in some communities, have created confusion amongst the people as well as denying them the right to choose their financial intermediary. Much of this posture stems from a protective attitude and the absence a long-term vision aimed at building an inclusive financial sector where poor and low income people can enjoy permanent and unsubsidized access to all forms of financial services. Greater efforts at creating sustainable partnerships between MFIs and banks are needed and development agencies can play a role here.

Documantation

References

See also

External Resources

Attachments

 Banking the unbnaked in Fiji ADB paper (3).doc  Fiji partnership.pdf  Fiji partnershipnewsletter.pdf  Banking the Un-banked but Bankable in Asia Pacific - Nov 05.ppt

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