Microfinance Country Information


Poor urban women in Port Vila – the capital of Vanuatu - are proving that they are indeed credit worthy.

The Vanuatu Women Development Scheme (VANWODS) – VAN/97/002 - is a project of the Government of Vanuatu (through the Department of Women Affairs) and UNDP to provide poor and disadvantaged women with reliable and affordable micro-loans to start income earning activities and to be able to save regularly. The aim of the project is to put in place a beneficiary owned microfinance scheme that is serving large numbers of poor women and becoming progressively self-financing.

As of November 1998, VANWODS had a total of 105 members, all of whom are women, organised in 5 low income settlements around the Port Vila area. Ninety seven members are active borrowers. The scheme provides group organisation and leadership training and offers savings and loans to the members based on the solidarity group model. The scheme charges an interest rate of 18 % per year and a total of Vt 2,027,000 (approx USD 15,836) of loans have been disbursed. Total members’ savings have reached Vt 1,343,369. Loan repayment to date has been 100%.

VANWODS is proving that poor women can pay back loans charging full-cost interest rates, are enterprising and can save. VANWODS will operate as an independent microfinance institution starting 1999 with the aim of extending its outreach to 3,000 low-income families in Port Vila over the next 4 years by which time it is also expected to become operationally self-sufficient. UNDP will continue to provide technical and capital support to VANWODS the NGO until 2000. Marjorie Marasingan, Microfinance Specialist, who have been with the project since 1996 will be assigned to work fulltime with the new NGO for the next 2 years. A donor cost-sharing plan has been prepared and submitted to government and development partners to mobilise additional resources to accelerate the outreach of VANWODS.

Source: UNDP, Fiji

Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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