$19m project

A MULTI-MILLION dollars project was signed yesterday in Suva to benefit market vendors in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The UNWomen and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Westpac Banking Corporation and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Government are taking this project which was effective from yesterday to December 31, 2017.

The $US10million ($F19.3m) pro bono agreement will provide financial literacy and business education training for market vendors for the three countries for six years.

United Nations Resident co-ordinator and UNDP resident representative Osnat Lubrani says the project aims to ensure that marketplaces in rural and urban areas in the three countries are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory environments, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

“In the Pacific, between 75 per cent and 90 per cent of vendors working at Pacific marketplace are women and their earnings often make up a significant portion of the income of many poor households,” Ms Lubrani said.

She said these market vendors were predominantly seen as workers in the informal economy and as such, most were unorganised, had poor basic financial management skills, lack of financial services and support, and without voice to engage with local government in market management and related governance.

Westpac will deliver financial literacy and business education training for about 3500 market vendors in 10 markets around the country.

UNDP will facilitate access to the market vendors including logistical arrangements for the training with the respective city or town councils.

Westpac acting general manager Wayne Beckley said they were delighted that the bank would be able to empower people’s livelihood and the economy particularly women to be financially literate and increase their financial business knowledge.

A similar agreement will be signed in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.