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Microfinance set for launch

October 06
12:00 2010

Written By : SHIRI LATA. South Pacific Business Development Microfinance (Fiji) Limited (SOBD) will start its operations in Suva this month.
SPBD founder and chair Gregory Casagrande said the company’s vision was to create a network of micro-enterprise development organisations in the South-Pacific and neighbouring regions to empower women through financial access and economic development.
“This is to help them lift themselves and their families permanently out of poverty and improve self-esteem,” Mr Casagrande said.
The operations in Fiji will be headed by Lionel Somaratne as its general manager.
Mr Somaratne has a very successful global career in microfinance and a huge positive impact on poverty alleviation.
Prior to joining SPBD, he was the CEO of the Nationwide Microbank (NMB) of Papua New Guinea (PNG) since 2007.
He transformed the bank from a pilot microfinance project into the largest commercially-viable, sustainable microfinance institution in PNG.
He has also worked for the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, where he headed IFC’s Advisory Services and SME Enterprise Development for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
This is the third island nation that the South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) is expanding to in the South Pacific basin.
It follows successful microfinance institution launches in Samoa in 2000 and Tonga in 2009.
SPBD’s goal is to build a financially-sustainable MFI in Fiji that will empower women, through meaningful economic opportunities, to lift themselves and their families permanently out of poverty.
SPBD improves the quality of life of families living in poverty by providing unsecured credit, training and ongoing motivation.
It also provides guidance to help them start, grow and maintain micro-businesses, build assets, as well as, finance home improvements and childhood education.
Current funders of SPBD include the MicroDreams Foundation, SPBD Microfinance Holdings, and PIF Foundation.

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