Women borrow $3m in 18 months

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The FDB headoffice in Suva. Picture: FILE

The Fiji Development Bank’s Loan for Women Entrepreneurs has garnered over $3million in loan approvals since it was launched 18 months ago.

“We launched this program about 18 months ago,” said FDB’s chief executive officer Saud Minam in an interview with The Fiji Times.

“The product is only for women – for a minimum of $1000 and maximum at that point was $5000.

“In last 14 to 16 months, we have been able to disperse loans to close to 1300 women and the total loan value is about $3m, so that’s an average of about $2000 odd dollars per woman entrepreneur.”

Mr Minam said this goes in line with FDB’s development financier role, one that makes it an important player in the micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSME) sector.

“Two years ago, we looked at our portfolio and the number of customers we have in terms of male and female, we had about 16 per cent female only, you know, which is if you go across most of the places you’ll find the same sort of number,” he said.

“So we made a commitment to ourselves — myself and my team — that we need to raise this to 30 per cent in about two to three years. And I’m happy to share this with you that today, 25 per cent of our customers are women.”

He said the bank has also found that women are better in terms of making payments and what they do with the money they receive.

“It’s human nature. Women tend to be little bit more cautious than the rest of us.”

Through the product, FDB offers unsecured loans with bare minimum requirements, with most of the applications completed online and funds disbursed digitally without the women having to set foot in Suva.

The bank also currently offers financial literacy courses for women in collaboration with the New Zealand government through its high commission in Suva.

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