Private sector reforms help Pacific women, says report


The Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), a joint initiative of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), has not only helped modernize the region’s outdated business laws but also encouraged more women to get into business ventures, says the project’s latest progress report.<!--more-->

<a href=""><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-2162" title="Polynesia" src="" alt="" width="138" height="104" /></a>Helping improve access to financial services has enhanced economic opportunities for women, the report says. The project has also raise the efficiency of state-owned enterprises in the five years since the initiative began.

Begun in 2006 the PSDI is a regional facility that assists 14 Pacific Island economies with reforms to remove the constraints to doing business in the Pacific. PSDI’s flexible structure enables it to respond quickly when a reform opportunity arises, while also remaining focused on long-term support.

PSDI helped modernise business laws (companies and secured transactions acts) in 8 Pacific island countries. It worked with these countries to install and maintain electronic registries after the concerned laws were modernised. In Solomon Islands, these reforms have led to increased lending and much faster loan approvals. It is now possible to register a business online in no more than 2 days.

The reforms are also helping women register formal businesses more easily at lower cost and are boosting women’s access to financial services by expanding existing microfinance institutions into remote areas of Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. In Papua New Guinea, PSDI assisted Nationwide Microbank develop an innovative mobile phone-linked bank account, MiCash.

The report notes that planned PSDI activities for the remainder of 2012 and beyond include deepening existing reforms and further strengthening efforts to encourage the economic empowerment of women. It will also be active in the microstates in the region. PSDI’s continuing efforts are in line with AusAID’s new Private Sector Development Strategy.