The Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) and the Milne Bay Provincial Administration (MBPA) have unanimously agreed to work together in partnership to drive the agenda of Financial Inclusion in the province. Both CEFI and MBPA came to agreement following respective meetings of the Milne Bay Steering Committee on Financial Inclusion on January 28 and 29 in Alotau. The purpose of the meeting was to induct members of the Milne Bay Financial Inclusion Steering Committee. From the meeting key activities were identified to begin the process of financial inclusion agenda in the province which included, Baseline Survey on Financial Inclusion in the province, Training of Trainers for Financial Literacy Training, Business Development Service Training for SMEs in the province, hosting of Financial Inclusion Exposition and Pilot Project on expanding access of financial products and services in the province down to the districts. Some key resolutions that came out of the meeting included, the finalization of the appointment of the Milne Bay Provincial Financial Inclusion Steering Committee, finalization of the terms of reference for the committee, finalization of the 2021 annual work plan, date of the next meeting and setting up of a desk to coordinate financial inclusion in the province. The formation of the steering committee is part of a list of activities outlined in the scope of Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) signed between MPBA and CEFI on 25th November 2019. The three year MOU which will expire on 23rd September 2022, under clause 2.13 states, called for the “establishment of a Project Steering Committee (PSC) that will include representatives from the provincial government, CEFI, private sector and civil agencies in the province.” CEFI’s Manager for Special Projects Busa Jeremiah Wenogo emphasized the need for the financial inclusion agenda to be embedded in the province and urged MBPA and the Financial Institution’s to work together collaborately to drive financial inclusion in the province. “There is a need now for us to work together to educate our population on financial literacy as well as how to save money and invest in productive activities to help their families improve their wellbeing,” Mr Wenogo said. “This induction very much concerned about articulating your roles and responsibility in order that you carry out your responsibility well. This Steering committee will provide oversight and guidance in terms of how financial inclusion activities will be undertaken in the province, Mr Wenogo explained to the committee members. Mr Wenogo also highlighted the importance of financial institutions engagement in the financial inclusion agenda in the province adding they were important partners in driving financial inclusion in the province. “You are going to be a very important partner in this process of embedding financial inclusion in the province. Through the induction process we hope that you get an appreciation of what CEFI and BPNG plans to do so that you can also come in to drive the process,” he told representatives of financial institutions. Representatives from the financial inclusion expressed their willingness to partner in the financial inclusion agenda and work together with the MBPA and urged the MBPA to be more active in involving them in their financial inclusion activities. MBPA Deputy Administrator, Corporate and District Services, Sharon Mua assured the financial institutions present at the meetings that they are looking forward to working with them in achieving the activities set out in the work plan. The meetings also included presentations from CEFI’s Manager for Special Projects Busa Jeremiah Wenogo, on the National Financial Inclusion Policy, Proposed Milne Bay Provincial Work Plan for Financial Inclusion and Terms of Reference for Milne Bay Provincial Steering Committee on Financial Inclusion. In attendance were representatives from the MBPA’s Commerce Division, Alotau District Development Authority and Financial Institutions including, Nasfund, Namabawan Super, Women’s Micro Bank, TISA, Mi Bank and Bank South Pacific. For further information on the work of CEFI please contact CEFI Communications and Stakeholder Mobilisation Team: +675 3225300, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thecefi.org Images and captions Image 1: CEFI’s Special Projects Manager Busa Jeremiah Wenogo explaining the MOU document during the Milne Bay Provincial Steering Committee on Financial Inclusion Meeting. Image 2: Michael Wende (Nasfund Branch Manager – Alotau) and Geno Laka (Namabwan Super Branch Manager – Alotau) listen attentively to the presentations by CEFI during the Milne Bay Provincial Steering Committee on Financial Inclusion Meeting. Image 3: Representatives from the financial institutions pose for a group photo with CEFI’s Special Projects Manager Busa Jeremiah Wenogo (4th left-front) and Provincial Advisor, Commerce Division, Sedrick Noel (3rd left-front). Image 4: (from left to right) Angela Nelson (Women’s Representative), Keilo Nelson (Mi Bank Branch Manager – Alotau), Claudius Kareko (SME Officer – MBPA Commerce Division) and Alfred Kidilon (Principal Advisor – Community Development – MBPA) listen to presentations from CEFI. Image 5: Representatives from Financial Institutions and MBPA pose for a group photo with CEFI’s Special Projects Manager Busa Jeremiah Wenogo (4th left-front) and MBPA Deputy Provincial Administrator – Corporate District Services, Sharon Mua (3rd leftfront).