Surviving on FJ$90 a month

February 9, 2012

Date: Feb 9, 2012

Surviving on FJ$90 a month is not easy. So when youths on the chiefly island of Bau were presented with Financial First Steps training, social welfare recipients Akosita Tinai and Leanatasi Vuiloma were also keen on learning skills that would be crucial for their families survival.

Akosita Tinai, 54, a widow of 3 kids has been a social welfare recipient since her husband’s death in 2007. Her family lives on this modest allowance every month. She supports her eldest child who attends Vunimono High School while her two younger children attend the primary school on Bau Island.

When being interviewed, the single mother talked of her challenges and how her social welfare allowance has been her main source of income. Over the years, Akosita has been using this mere $90 to run small businesses in the village in order to raise more funds to cater for her family needs.

In January, 2010, through Department of Social Welfare, Westpac and AusAid Fiji, social welfare beneficiaries started receiving their allowances electronically via Westpac accounts. Upon this transfer from voucher based payments to electronic payments, welfare clients received basic training on the use of Westpac Handy Cards, how to use ATMs/EFTPOS and basic orientation into electronic form of payments.

Now, social welfare clients across Fiji can benefit from Westpac’s Financial First steps training which is delivered by Westpac staff. This training enables participants to develop good money habits and how to confidently manage their money by learning essential skills on budgeting and savings.

“For me, budgeting is something I encounter every day and I have learnt some smart tips and through Westpac’s visit today, I was also able to open a new savings account, “said Mrs. Tinai.

On this visit to Bau Island, Westpac waived certain requirements to accommodate villagers who wanted to open new accounts.

Age is no barrier to learning, as 57 year old, Leanatasi Vuiloma, expressed, “undergoing this training has made me re-look at my spending habits. Previously, I would withdraw all of my allowances at once, now I will consider saving and controlling my spending habits. I am glad I attended this training today.” Mr. Vuiloma is partially disabled and is also a social welfare recipient.

The Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme provides technical advice to Westpac’s financial literacy training for social welfare clients with the support of AusAID Fiji.

The Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP) is a Pacific-wide programme helping to provide sustainable financial services to low income households. It is funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) and operates from the UNDP Pacific Centre.