+675 322 5300

Call to speak to our team


Contact our team via email

Mon - Fri: 8:00 - 4:30

We maintain normal hours

Media Releases

‘Women’s Micro Bank a key driver of financial inclusion’ – ‘BPNG Governor Ms. Elizabeth Genia.’


Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea Ms. Elizabeth Genia officially opened the Women’s Micro Bank (WMB) Branch in Kerema (Tuesday May 07), making it the fifth WMB branch to be operating in Papua New Guinea.

“Today’s official opening of its fifth branch celebrates another achievement in a long line of achievements we have seen for women’s microbank. I am sure your highly esteemed founder, the late Janet Sape, would have been extremely proud of the organization affectionately known as Mama Bank, now one of the top 50 companies for women in APEC countries and well regarded as a financial services innovator,” Ms. Genia told the people of Kerema town who turned up in hundreds to witness the important occasion.

Ms. Genia stated that WMB has become a key driver of financial inclusion and financial inclusion was originally a BPNG led innovation but is now a national strategic priority.

She applauded women’s micro bank services in addressing several financial inclusion objectives, particularly highlighting depositing taking and lending opportunities to the 85% of the population who are still unbanked.

“Opening of the Kerema branch is another way Women’s Microbank has made a commitment to encouraging people to access financial services.”

“I understand the Kerema branch will enable the people of the district, particularly the women, to take advantage of services such as the MSC credit scheme, financial literacy training, as well as basics, including deposit takings and loans. The branch will provide a practical and desirable alternative to the risks of holding cash, informal money lending and money scams, all of which stop people from building a comfortable standard of living.”

“Today’s official opening gives members of the community the opportunity to take significant steps forward towards building the financial security and financial independence,” the BPNG Governor said.

Coinciding with the opening, was also the launching of the Kerema District SME Policy which was officially launched by Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Honourable James Marape.

The Prime Minister committed three million kina towards the WMB Kerema branch as part of the Government’s partnership with KDDA in assisting to create a credit lending facility where Gulf women especially mothers in SME can benefit.

“Get into productive micro to small medium enterprises and do well for yourself. By doing well for yourself, you will be preparing your children well for the future,” the prime minister encouraged women from Gulf province.

Kerema Open MP Honourable Thomas Opa also committed two million kina towards the WMB Kerema branch and also became the first customer to open an account with the branch.

Mr. Opa emphasised that empowering women in Gulf province was a big challenge but was positive that with the setting up of a WNB (mama) branch in his province and assistance from the government with seed capital to fund lending credit facilities, he was confident mothers and young girls will take advantage of the opportunity and use the facilities wisely to venture in various business opportunities and empower themselves financially.

Other important delegates who witnessed the SME Policy Launching and WMB opening included, Kerema Open MP and Vice Minister for Petroleum and Energy Honourable Thomas Opa, Wapenamanda Open MP and Vice Minister for Works and Highways Honourable Mikki Kaeok, Moresby North West Open MP Lohia Boe Samuel, BPNG Assistant Governor George Awap, WMB CEO Gunanidhi Das, CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe and members of the Kerema District Development Authority and the Gulf Provincial Executive Council.



Image Captions:

Image 1 & 2.  Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea Ms. Elizabeth Genia officially opening the Women’s Micro Bank in Kerema.

Image 3 & 4.  Prime Minister Honourable James Marape cutting the ribbon to the launch the Kerema District SME Policy.

Image 5.  Kerema Open MP and Vice Minister for Petroleum and Energy Honourable Thomas Opa became the first customer to open an account with the branch. Witnessing this is BPNG Governor Ms. Elizabeth Genia.

Image 6. Kerema Open MP and Vice Minister for Petroleum and Energy Honourable Thomas Opa shows his passbook after opening an account with the branch. Witnessing this was (from right to left), Wapenamanda Open MP and Vice Minister for Works and Highways Honourable Mikki Kaeok, Governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea Ms. Elizabeth Genia, CEFI Executive Director Saliya Ranasinghe, CEFI Deputy Executive Director Peter Samuel and Women’s Micro Bank CEO Gunanidhi Das.

Image 7. Womens Micro Bank, Kerema Branch

For further information on the work of CEFI please contact CEFI Communications Team: +675 3225300, email: lomaro@thecefi.org  or visit www.thecefi.org


Impact Stories

Impact Story 2 – Cecilia Pepson

How digital business and finance education has revived the business of a determined woman entrepreneur after the Covid19 pandemic and sparked a passion for financial inclusion in her village.

It was January 2020 and the world was on lockdown. The Novel Corona Virus had swept over the world striking down millions of people. There was a pandemic on the loose. And it was not just human lives that were affected.

The global economy had come to a standstill. Restrictions on the movement of people meant businesses could not sell goods and services.

The results would be devastating for all businesses, sectors and people alike worldwide.

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in Papua New Guinea were the hardest hit.

As the hold of the pandemic slowly eased and the world slowly began to re-open, many businesses would struggle to recover without help.

However, embracing innovation proved to be the game changer for many business owners in the recovery process.

Cecilia Pepson, a businesswoman in the Port Moresby Real Estate Industry, is one such case.

Originally from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG) and married to a man from the Western Highlands Province, Cecilia owns and manages the Harbor View Apartments in downtown Port Moresby.

She had a thriving business which she started in the year 2004 providing accommodation to expatriates and tourists.

Before the year 2019 ended, the looming pandemic would see all her foreign tenants packed and headed back home overseas.

Just like many MSME owners, Cecilia was not ready for that. She was not a business professional with a college education to help her respond strategically. She was just an entrepreneur that made an income from renting her apartments. As the first months of 2020 came, her revenue stream had dried up as borders were closed and the shutdown of cities became effective.

What pushed Cecilia into becoming an entrepreneur was her desire to support her husband and afford the best education they could for their children.

Her husband was a former diplomat, Ambassador Gabriel Pepson.

For ten years, her children had been exposed to quality education in Europe where her husband was posted as the PNG Ambassador to the European Union. When his term ended and the family returned to PNG, Cecilia shunned the thought of her children missing out on quality education she knew existed overseas. But to do this, the couple would need a profitable business to support them financially. The Port Moresby real estate market provided exactly what they needed.

The business had helped to accomplish her dreams of providing quality education to her children and a dependable regular flow of income. However, after fifteen (15) years in operation, the implications of the Covid19 pandemic set her business on a downward spiral.

As Cecilia contemplated her next move in 2021, a friend from the Bank of PNG suggested she enquire with CEFI for business advice.

Around that time, CEFI was about to implement “The Training and Mentoring Program for Women-Led Businesses.” An initiative by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) with funding from the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi), the program provided virtual training on financial literacy, business planning and debt management, and e-commerce to women entrepreneurs.

An important aim of the initiative was to help women-owned businesses recover from the effects of the Covid19 pandemic.

Cecilia was ecstatic to learn about the training and quickly expressed her interest to attend the program.

Within six months of completing her training, Cecilia breathed life back into her business by applying her newfound business skills. By the end of December 2021, her e-commerce skills had brought in tenants for her apartments.

“Using the knowledge gained from the training, I was able to advertise my business online and now have five new tenants renting my apartments” Cecilia said.

Her confidence has grown as a businesswoman.

The training has also enabled her to connect with other women SME owners. The sharing of ideas and approaches to managing various challenges from others has greatly helped Cecilia with her business.

CEFI continued to track her progress. In early 2022, Cecilia was one of five (5) women entrepreneurs that benefited from debt counseling from Mi Bank initiated by CEFI.

This determined businesswoman is also the President of the Lenoke Women’s Association (LWA) of South Bougainville where she is from.

As her understanding of finance and business management increased, she began to see the importance of financial literacy and desired it for her people.

In collaboration with Mi Bank, Cecilia organised for agents to visit her village in May 2022 enabling 73 people in Lenoke to open bank accounts. Those who had mobile phones also activated mobile banking services after opening an account. This was the first time for people in her village to have access to such bank services this easily.

LWA posted on its Facebook Page in May 2022.

“Banking the unbanked…. 95% of the people in Lenoke have never been to a bank. The sheer thought of standing in long queues for hours, to be sent home every day for a week until full requirements are met is a hindrance. Cash is safely tucked into a secret space of their thatched roof until a fire guts the bush material hut. Sending their money straight into the bank is revolutionary”.

LWA is now Mi Bank’s agent serving the South Bougainville area to open more personal savings accounts.

Apart from growing her business, Cecilia now wants to partner with CEFI to expand financial literacy in her Lenoke constituency. She wants her people to receive virtually retail financial literacy training as she did.

Embracing innovation is having a ripple effect on finance inclusion expansion.


CEFI conducts second WSME workshop

The second series of training for the Online Training for Women (WSME) commenced this week (Tuesday May 02nd to Thursday May 04th), for Ni-Vanuatu WSME from Vanuatu.
Vanwods Microfinance Institution is the implementing agency in Port Vila, Capital of Vanuatu.
The Vanuatu WSME trainee participants virtually attended training through zoom from the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu’s Conference Room.
The WSME’s received training in Digital Financial Literacy, e-Commrece, Business Planning and Debt Management.
PNG and Solomon Islands training is scheduled respectively for May 23 to May 25, 2023.
The training is an initiative funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and facilitated by the #cefi Centre for Excellence in Financial Inclusion.

CEFI Facilitates for training in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.

The #cefi Center for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) is facilitating online training for women running small businesses in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
Known as the Online Training for Women SMEs (WSME), the training is an initiative funded by the #adb Asian Development (ADB).
The three (3) training courses include Digital Financial Literacy, e-Commerce, and Business Planning and Debt Management.
The first series of training started last week (Tuesday April 18 to Thursday April 20) for WSME from Fiji.
The training was facilitated at the CEFI Office, and women participants virtually attended through zoom from Lautoka and Suva.
The objective of the training is to build the capacity of women entrepreneurs to acquire new knowledge through learning about;
– Digital financial products and services and how to utilize them;
– conducting business through the use of e-Commerce platforms;
– preparing proper business plans; and
– managing debt to maintain the operations of the business under unfavorable circumstances.
Vanuatu WSME’s training is scheduled for May 02 to May 04, 2023, PNG and Solomon Islands schduield respectively for May 23 to May 25, 2023.
Media Releases

CEFI celebrates IWD by encouraging women SMEs to recognise the importance of the digital technology in the financial space

The Center for Excellence in Financial Inclusion (CEFI) celebrated International Women’s Day (IWD) with the theme ‘DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.’

Fourteen Women in Small and Medium Enterprise (WSMEs) businesses under the Ledger Pal App Pilot Project were invited by CEFI to attend the IWD celebration-activities and had the privilege of listening to two national digital online entrepreneurs sharing their experiences of conducting business in the digital platform. These women entrepreneurs were, Ms. Ginia Sialis, Director and Business Owner of Tapioca Delight and Ms. Deslisha Wasem, Owner of Shebon Kiddy Box. Two other senior women, Ms. Naime Kilamanu, Chief Information Officer (ICT) – Bank of PNG and Ms. Fulaiyo James, Project Manager – MiBank, also spoke to the women on their experience of working in leadership roles in their respective financial institutions.

CEFI Executive Director, Mr. Garima Tongia when speaking at the IWD event on Wednesday March 8, told the women that CEFI recognises the importance of innovations and technology in the financial inclusion space.

“At CEFI we realise that bringing women out from the subsistence informal sector into the formal monetised economy will empower them to contribute meaningfully to their families and communities thereby wining the respect from those in the community including the men folk and hence being recognised as equals,” Mr. Tongia said.

“CEFI wants to ensure an additional one million women are banked during the period 2023 – 2027. As at September 2022, we have 1.4 million accounts for women from the total 3.8 million representing 37%,” said Mr. Tongia when highlighting the importance of women’s inclusion in the monetised economy.

Bank of Papua New Guinea Acting Assistant Governor, Mr. George Awap encouraged the women that to empower women economically would mean providing opportunities for women to venture into sustainable income generating activities so they are recognised as important contributors to family welfare. Mr. Awap said the sad reality in PNG is that many basic services including banking cannot reach many women and also men due to the harsh geographical terrains, high security risks and rundown public infrastructures.

“Technological innovations remain the answer to basic service delivery including banking in a country like PNG,” Mr. Awap said.

CEFI Financial Inclusion Adviser, Mr. Saliya Ranasinghe when speaking on the topic of Potential for Women Business, Vision for the Future, said technology has created new opportunities for women and great opportunities for business.

“Digital literacy has become an important aspect and that the businesswomen need to build a long-term vision for its business and build a strong partnership with the banking sector.”

Join our Mailing list!

Get all latest news, exclusive deals and academy updates.