Microfinance Opportunities to Alleviate Poverty in Tonga

Dec 2015
Tonga, December, 02 2015 - The event has brought together vendors, mainly women, from around Tonga, who are part of the TDB’s Microfinance program aimed at helping alleviate poverty in Tonga.

If you have the time and money go down to the St Paul’s Church’s compound in Kolofo’ou and see for yourself what are on offer at the 2nd annual Tonga Development Bank’s Holiday Market Festival.

The event has brought together vendors, mainly women, from around Tonga, who are part of the TDB’s Microfinance program aimed at helping alleviate poverty in Tonga.

The festival was opened earlier today and will wrap up later tomorrow.

On show are handicrafts and farm produce as well.

The TDB says microfinance projects they have supported aim to help generate income for those who take up the opportunity.

This program has been made able through the funding of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), under the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction Grant Assistance Project.

The Holiday Market Festival will enable vendors, some of whom have travelled into the capital from the outer island, and the bank’s microfinance clients (ADB-JFPR Loan) to sell goods ranging from handicrafts to root crops.

Participants include women from Vava’u, Ha’apai and ‘Eua as well as from Hahake and the Hihifo Distrcits.

The Guest of Honor for today’s event was Mr Tetsumi Murata, the Acting Ambassador of Japan.

In his welcoming speech, Mr Hasiloni Fungavai , the TDB’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, said that the funding scheme aims at achieving the goal of a social sector project, empowering women who are vulnerable.

This is targeting unemployed women in Tonga’s outer islands and rural areas to help them improve their standards of living through micro-credit opportunities and business skills training and so on.

“We have witnessed today the work of their hands and the way women have used this program as an opportunity to have a stable source of income for their families and improve standard of livings, to learn how to save and also learning basic business skills,” he said.

Mr Murata in his keynote address said that vulnerability is a notion that can be defined as a feeling of insecurity, due to limitation of choices and opportunities.

“It is important to address poverty by promoting local entrepreneurs because firstly, it harnesses people’s capability to make informed choices and secondly, it is a prospect for Human Security. Seventy percent (70%) of this assistance was directed towards women’s entrepreneurship, which encourages handicraft development, cropping and retailing, because women are very important,” Mr Murata said.

He explained that today marks significant steps for us to alleviate poverty by reducing issues of vulnerability in Tonga, in order to promote Human Security.

“The notion of Human Security is a re-focus of concepts of feeling secure to everyday life by re-aligning our priorities with simple tasks such as educating people, providing people with job opportunities, making communities safe through basic primary services and so forth,” he added.

This is a show of the TDB’s efforts to end poverty in Tonga, showing that the war against poverty is not just an economic issue but also a social battle.

The program is also supported by the Ministry of Finance and National Planning.

Source : Nuku'alofa Times

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