Lying half way between Hawaii and New Zealand, the volcanic islands of Samoa are in the very centre of Polynesia. Samoa implemented a number of successful economic reforms in the mid-1990s which facilitated several years of steady growth, making it one of the stronger performing economies in the Pacific region. However, Samoa remains vulnerable to external economic shocks, as well as to natural hazards such as cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. The Government of Samoa itself has no official figure for the incidence of poverty in Samoa. However, participatory poverty assessments undertaken by the government confirm that a significant number of households experience hardship arising from 'poverty of opportunity' that is manifested in a lack of access to basic services and a lack of opportunities to participate fully in the socioeconomic life of the community. In the 2012 Human Development Report, Samoa was ranked 96 out of 187 countries.
How We Are Helping?
In Samoa, UNCDF is helping to address development challenges through the the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP).
PFIP is providing funding to Digicel to introduce a low cost mobile phone based mobile wallet (m-wallet) in Samoa and other countries in the Pacific. Funding from UNCDF will enable the company to develop a business plan for a broader Pacific roll-out and to implement a pilot project before launching in other countries. The m-wallet can also be used in partnership with banks, microfinance institutions and others and will offer domestic money transfer, international remittance, bill payment, and savings. It is expected that by the end of 2011, the service will benefit up to 500,000 people of which 40% will be women and 30% living in rural villages.
Moreover, the Least Developed Countries Fund for savings-led market leaders for inclusive finance (MicroLead), aims to increase access to financial services, particularly savings, by supporting the expansion of microfinance savings-led market leaders in underserved countries.