Westpac's Mark Turner and Wayne Beckley with Osnat Lubrani at the signing (Photo: Sheryl Ho/UNDP)

Suva, Fiji
– More market vendors across the country in Suva, Nausori, Sigatoka, Nadi, Namaka, Lautoka, Ba, Tavua, Rakiraki, and Labasa, will now have the opportunity to be trained in financial literacy and business education training, following an agreement signed between Westpac Banking Corporation (Fiji) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). There is potential for the program to be rolled out in further markets.

UNDP will facilitate access to market vendors, including logistical arrangements for the training with city or town council, and also covering all associated costs for the training. Westpac will in turn deliver financial literacy and business education training for market vendors, until 31 December 2017. The agreement for the training in Fiji, estimated at FJ$14,800, is part of the Markets for Change (M4C) project, a six-year initiative executed by UN Women in partnership with UNDP and the local governments in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, aimed at ensuring markets are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

In the Pacific, between 75 and 90 percent of markets vendors working marketplaces are women and their earnings often make up a significant portion of the incomes of many poor households. These market vendors are predominantly seen as workers in the informal economy and as such, most are unorganized, have poor basic financial management skills, lack financial services and support, and without voice to engage with local government in market management and related governance.

Representing Westpac in Fiji, Acting General Manager Wayne Beckley said he was delighted that through the agreement, “Westpac will be able to empower market vendors in particular women, to be financially literate and increase their financial business knowledge.”

“As part of the project, UNDP is tasked to strengthen and support the socio-economic empowerment of women market vendors, UNDP is delighted to partner with Westpac to provide financial literacy and basic business management training to better manage their small businesses and livelihoods,” said Osnat Lubrani, UNDP’s Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator.

“The training and capacity building in basic financial management will enable the market vendors to have a better understanding of their business and household finances which will enable them to better manage the money, improve their savings and grow their businesses,” said Ms Lubrani.

Mr Beckley added that Westpac has significant experience in rolling out financial education training in the Pacific. “In the 2014 financial year, we’ve taken financial education to more than 23,000 people across the Pacific, up from over 20,000 in 2013. We’re passionate about helping communities to manage money responsibly and are excited about the opportunity to partner with UNDP to reach more market vendors than ever before. ”

The Markets for Change project is a US$10 million six-year initiative, which aims to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. The project is executed by UN Women in partnership with UNDP and the local governments in the three countries, with funding from Australian Government.​

Contact information
UNDP: Sheryl Ho, tel: +679 9239-215; 3300-399; email: sheryl.ho@undp.org
Westpac: Jyoti Maharaj, tel: +679 991-2437; email: jmaharaj@westpac.com.au

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