Financial inclusion in Fiji has significantly improved with a narrowing gender gap, and the level of access to formal financial services among Fijians has increased from 64% in 2014 to 81% in 2020.2 The market has also observed adoption of digital financial services, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The growing availability and use of digital financial services (DFS) in Fiji provide unique capital-building tools and resources for further accelerating financial inclusion and inclusive growth for the last mile. To realize this potential, strengthening digital and financial literacy (DFL) of all population segments, especially among the marginalized and low-income groups is essential.
In this context, it is essential to assess the status of digital and financial literacy in Fiji to design and implement evidence backed interventions. To date however, efforts to improve digital and financial literacy and implement targeted interventions have been significantly challenged by a lack of updated DFL data in Fiji and other Pacific Island countries on which to base these efforts and track the progress. To address this gap, UNCDF partnered with Tebbutt Research to conduct Digital and Financial Literacy Survey in Fiji and six other Pacific Island countries (Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Timor-Leste) to assess the current state of digital and financial literacy within each country. The research explores experiences with traditional and digital financial services to-date, in addition to assessing basic competencies in the areas of digitization and finance. The survey findings will be used to develop and implement targeted interventions for improving digital financial competencies among women, MSMEs, youth, migrant workers, and rural communities. The survey results are intended to serve as a baseline from which future changes in competencies, access, and usage can be measured by the regulators and development partners.
Despite the launch of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) First National Financial Inclusion and Financial Literacy Strategy in 2014-2015, the progress in achieving financial inclusion has been slow and limited. There is a significant need for improvement, especially in providing equal opportunities for women and ensuring inclusivity in the strategy’s implementation.
In May 2022, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Rapid Finance Facility (RFF) project in PNG. The RFF Project was designed to provide support to women entrepreneurs by offering digital and financial services. The project aimed to enhance financial inclusion and address the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women. By empowering women with digital tools and access to financial services, the project sought to create opportunities for economic growth and resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. The project took a comprehensive approach to address the key barriers women entrepreneurs face in the formal and informal business sectors.
The RFF project aimed to enhance women-led MSMEs’ capacities, enabling them to effectively utilize digital tools and digital financial services through capacity-building training. The project also prioritized access to a range of financial services for women entrepreneurs to actively participate in the digital economy. The RFF project targeted informal businesses in Lae and Port Moresby, which are crucial business hubs in Papua New Guinea.
The internet and modern technology have changed the way society communicates and operates, and have transformed education. Digital literacy involves learning how to use the devices, apps, tools, and resources that modern technology leverages. UNCDF joined forces with Hive Colab in Uganda to develop a toolkit to foster this learning. In this toolkit, our focus is on the use of mobile phones to the maximum benefit of women, men, youth, smallholder farmers and refugees, to enable them access digital financial services.
This resource can be used by different stakeholders to conduct digital literacy training (public good), and has been used as an experimentation exercise to test different approaches to delivering digital literacy training. It has also been presented in a more iterative co-creation exercises with rural users.