SPBD is a network of microfinance organizations working in Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Solomon Islands dedicated to eradicating poverty by empowering women in poor rural villages with the opportunity to start, grow and maintain sustainable, income generating micro-enterprises.

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We've empowered over 60,000 women micro-entrepreneurs through micro-loans totaling US$61 million dollars in the islands of the South Pacific... and we've only just started.

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Adventure in the Solomon Islands

This blog entry kicks off the first in a series of weekly blogs by Nacho Zabaleta. He is in the Solomon Islands helping SPBD perform due diligence in the Western Province and Malaita.

So this is my first week in the Solomon´s and I have to say this is quite an adventure.
My name is Nacho and I am a finance professor in the Canary Islands, Spain. I have come with South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) to the Solomon Islands for a 7 week project and it has already been an exciting first week!

South Pacific Business Development has been working in the South Pacific for the past 13 years providing microfinance services to women that lack access to funding. SPBD is already in Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji and just recently started its operations in the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands is a nation consisting of 6 major islands and 1,000 smaller ones. It has over 500,000 people and it is ranked #142 out of 187 countries according to the Human Development Index. Although 82.3% of households live under the poverty line, a perennial strength in this country is the eternal smile of its people.

SPBD Solomon Islands opened for business last November and it already has over 1,000 clients and keeps on growing. Customers do not only ask for loans, they use SPBD’s deposits to save their income. In fact, as of July SPBD has already surpassed the savings objectives for the year!

I want you to meet Henah Gwali, she was our first customer in the Solomon Islands. She uses her loans to buy the ingredients needed to prepare doughnuts that she sells during the day in her neighborhood. In the afternoon she sells firewood in the market to cook. And when she finds time in her busy schedule she goes out to fish, although she admits that she is not a great fisherwoman and most of her catch is small fish. She has already asked for her third loan of 4,200 Solomon Island dollars (about $450 USD). She is improving her house and she is an example of self achievement.

I have also met Grace Kelly (no, not the actress although they do share names). Through her little informal shop she sells all types of products to her community and she is able to repay her loan and save in her deposit account about 500 Solomon Island dollars each week after meeting business and family expenses!

I want to introduce you to the newest members of SPBD in the Solomon Islands. These women are members of our microfinance institution since Thursday and are ready to develop business activities that will improve their living standards thanks to the microcredit loans they have received.

I will keep you posted of my project each week, so if you are interested in financial inclusion please follow me. I will say till later with a typical Solomon Islands smile!

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