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Why digital business is important in PNG

This week, CEFI celebrated International Women’s Day by telling small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) run by women that they need to understand how important digital technology is in the financial space.

International Women’s Day (IWD) was celebrated by the Center for Excellence in Financial Inclusion with the theme “DigitAll: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality.”

CEFI invited 14 Women in Small and Medium Enterprises (WSMEs) businesses in the Ledger Pal App Pilot Project to attend the IWD celebrations. There, they heard two national digital online entrepreneurs talk about running their businesses on the digital platform.

Ginia Sialis was the director and owner of Tapioca Delight, and Deslisha Wasem was the owner of Shebon Kiddy Box.

Two other senior women, Naime Kilamanu, Chief Information Officer (ICT) at Bank of PNG, and Fulaiyo James, Project Manager at Milbank, also talked to the women about their experiences as leaders at their respective financial institutions.

Garima Tongia, the Executive Director of CEFI, told the women at the IWD event on March 8 that CEFI knows how important innovations and technology are in financial inclusion.

Mr. Tongia said, “At CEFI, we know that bringing women out of the informal subsistence sector and into the formal monetized economy will give them the power to make meaningful contributions to their families and communities. This will earn them the respect of everyone in the community, including the men, and make them seen as equals.”

CEFI wants to ensure an extra million women have bank accounts between 2023 and 2027. Mr. Tongia said, “As of September 2022, we have 1.4 million accounts for women out of a total of 3.8 million, which is 37%.” He said this to show how important it is for women to be included in the monetized economy.

George Awap, the acting assistant governor of the Bank of Papua New Guinea, told the women that empowering women economically means giving them chances to try out activities that can bring in steady income so that they are seen as essential contributors to family welfare.

Mr. Awap said that the sad reality in PNG is that many essential services, like banking, are out of reach for many women and men because of the country’s harsh terrain, high-security risks, and old public buildings.

Saliya Ranasinghe, an adviser on financial inclusion for CEFI, talked about “Potential for Women in Business, Vision for the Future.” She said technology has opened up new opportunities for women and great business opportunities.

Digital literacy has become critical, and businesswomen need to have a long-term plan for their companies and work closely with the banking sector.



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