The Lukautim Graun Program (LGP) — funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Cardno International Development — and the Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) signed a partnership agreement to roll out financial literacy trainings in six provinces in Papua New Guinea. Approximately 86% of PNG’s population lives in rural and remote areas on land owned by traditional landowners. Pressures from such industries as forest extraction as well as population growth threaten the PNG’s natural resources and biodiversity. With limited options local communities are tempted to convert their resources to meet short-term needs. This risks the ability of current and future generations to meet their needs and potentially opportunities for increased conflict larger demands for governments to care for those whose resources have been lost. USAID’s Lukautim Graun Program is a five-year project that works with PNG governments and non-governmental organizations to empower traditional landowners to directly manage and conserve the natural resources on which their livelihoods, wellbeing, and social stability depend. CEFI promotes financial inclusion and literacy, poverty elimination and the promotion of vibrant financial sector across Papua New Guinea, including for those in rural and remote areas. CEFI advances accessible quality financial services, innovative delivery channels and financial education to those who are often completely left out of the formal economy. CEFI also works to ensure financial education is introduced into public and private school curriculums and promote standardization and certification processes for the delivery of financial literacy training in PNG. CEFI’s mission aligns with USAID’s LGP-based efforts to expand entrepreneurship and creative enterprises, increase access to financial services, and develop new micro- and small-scale businesses in PNG, particularly for people who live in rural and remote areas. CEFI and USAID’s LGP program will particularly emphasize women’s economic empowerment. “Unless women and girls are empowered to fully participate in the economy, PNG will not be able to meet its development targets,” Maurice Knight, Chief of Party for USAID’s Lukautim Graun Program, said. “And for women, and men, to be fully enabled in the economy, PNG’s biodiversity and natural resources must be wisely managed so that current generations can meet their needs while not threatening the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The linkages are obvious.”
Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe, Executive Director for CEFI stated that “Financial inclusion is identified as an important priority in the implementation of CEFI’s third financial inclusion strategy which women and youth are important under the digital financial services and financial literacy and financial education.” “This agreement between Cardno and CEFI aligns with USAID’s 2020 Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Policy that affirms USAID’s vision of a prosperous and peaceful world in which women, girls, men, and boys enjoy equal economic, social, cultural, civil, and political rights and are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves, their families, their communities, and their countries,” said Julie Hulama, USAID Development Specialist. “Our cooperation also aligns with CEFI’s financial inclusion strategy that prioritizes access to financial services for informal and small-scale enterprise development, SME Finance, resource sector engagement and digital finance. The signing of this MOU comes at the perfect time as we launch our new 2022-2026 in the first quarter of 2022,” said Mr. Loi Bakani, Chair and member of the Board of CEFI. Through the USAID Lukautim Graun Program, CEFI and Cardno will begin implementing joint training programs in the first quarter of 2022 in Eastern Highlands, Jiwaka, Madang, Milne Bay, Morobe and Simbu provinces.