Pacific Microcredit Conference Offers New Ideas

  • Simon Upton
Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

New Zealand is taking a leading role in promoting a Pacific region conference on credit opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged, Associate Foreign Minister Simon Upton said today.

"Microcredit is an important international development concept," Mr Upton said. "It involves finding new and innovative ways of providing small amounts of credit to poor people who have difficulty gaining access to the formal banking system because of lack of security.

Group savings and credit schemes began in Asia and have now spread throughout the developing world. A Microcredit Summit in Washington earlier this year confirmed such programmes as amongst the best ways to help the poor help themselves.

The Pacific regional conference is being held in Niue from October 13-16. Some 60 representatives from government, non-government organisations and private sector groups in 13 Pacific island countries and territories are taking part.

"If disadvantaged people can get access to funding to build small business projects they can transform the lives of their families and whole communities," the Minister said. "New Zealand backs the concept and is taking a leading role in the microcredit work going on in our region."

New Zealand Overseas Aid (NZODA) is involved with microcredit projects in some 11 Pacific Island countries. These range from support for ecotourism projects in the Solomons to loans at concessional rates to rural women's groups in Fiji.