This Discussion Paper No.175, released by the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute (PNG NRI) looks at improving the understanding of financial inclusion of informal business operators through a case study of open market vendors in Port Moresby.

The author of “Understanding financial inclusion of the informal economy: Case study of open market vendors in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea” Dr Elizaberth Kopel, is a Senior Research Fellow and Program Leader of the Informal Economy Research Program.

The study revealed that market vending is dominated by vendors who have limited or no education, especially women. Financial exclusion is high among vendors. Approximately 75 percent of vendors do not have a bank account with a formal financial institution.

Though 22 percent of vendors have a bank account, most of them do not use it. Active account users have used accounts just for savings and they have not accessed or used additional services such as remittances, loans and insurance products from financial institutions. While 63 percent of vendors save part of their earnings, some of them keep their savings in cash at home. Use of personal funds to start an informal business was reported by 88 percent of vendors and only three percent borrowed from informal sources, mainly from family and friends.

Two-thirds of the vendors would like to expand and formalise their businesses and this can be made possible by access to credit. However, most vendors are not willing to borrow from formal sources of finance. It is important that efforts to improve financial inclusion among market vendors and other informal economy workers focus more on addressing demand side challenges to complement interventions aimed at improving supply side issues.

The PNG NRI acknowledges the Australian DFAT for research funding support that has funded this project.

 

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