6 Nov 2012

Increase in number of ni-Vanuatu saving money through cooperatives

1:01 pm on 6 November 2012

The number of ni-Vanuatu in rural areas saving money is on the rise through the extension of microfinancing schemes known as Savings and Loan Cooperatives.

A volunteer with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad, Chris Smart, says when he arrived on the island of Santo a year ago there were only 14 Savings and Loan Cooperatives, with only 200 members.

Mr Smart, who is halfway through a government contract as a business advisor, says there are now 57 cooperatives with over 1,200 members.

He says it is almost impossible for the small subsistence farmers who comprise 80 percent of the population to use the town-based banks, which are often too far away and charge unaffordable interest rates.

"So what we offer is a regular way of saving, an ability to get very cheap loans at 10 percent and then dividends at the end of the year that will reward the whole community for their savings for the year."

Chris Smart says women especially are benefitting from joining cooperatives.