A New Zealand volunteer helping extend microfinancing schemes to rural communities in Vanuatu says women especially are benefitting from the ability to save and borrow money.
Chris Smart says Savings and Loan Cooperatives have been operating in Vanuatu for more than a decade but have only become popular again in the past couple of years.
He says the town-based banks are not used by most rural people because they're too hard to reach and charge unaffordable interest rates.
Mr Smart, who is halfway through a two-year government contract as a business advisor on the island of Santo, says the cooperatives are building up women's confidence and improving their marital relationships.
"The women work very hard here but they don't really keep much of a saving for themselves. Most of it is kept by the men in the village and used by the men. But when we set men and women with passbooks then they all save equally and they have their own independence, their own passbook."
A Vanuatu-based volunteer with New Zealand's Volunteer Service Abroad, Chris Smart.