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Explaining micro-finance and sustainable livelihoods
Micro-finance refers to small enterprises developed by people based in the community who have a low income and no access to banking services. This could be a type of “saving club” which allows people to save and withdraw small amounts of money when they need to. All of us need some money saved up sometimes - you might need money to improve your house, for school fees, to have a wedding or to help your wantok if they get sick. In time, a saving club can also provide small loans.
The most important thing is that a micro-finance activity can help people become financially independent. Then our communities can become more secure and self-supporting. We don’t need to wait for handouts when we are in trouble.
To generate money for the saving club, people need to start something which will provide a product for other people to buy, or a service for other people to use. This means people need to plan ahead so they have enough resources for their own family, as well as enough resources for the new activity.
Activities which are suitable are those that can be started on a small scale in our own homes, or on community land, and using resources which are close at hand. They should not rely on technology or machines which are not available to us. These activities are operated by us ourselves, and are not reliant on outside help to operate.
On Kolombangara we need to be thinking about sustainable livelihoods that will help us to protect our natural environment, because it is our natural environment that provides resources for our Solomon Island way of life. For example there are many plants we collect from the bush for medicine, bush nuts and fruits, and for weaving baskets. Our canoes come from the bush. We also collect many resources from the oceans.
If we want to be able to keep using these resources we need to manage the bush and the marine areas in a sustainable way. This will also mean we are protecting cultural values, for the benefit of ourselves and future generations.
KIBCA will work with the community to identify suitable sustainable livelihoods.
Eco-tourism is one way in which we can promote the special qualities of our environment on Kolombangara and provide local employment for guides, hospitality staff, concerts and demonstrations of culture. This spreads the awareness to visitors who will take this information back to their country.
Some other options include:
- Harvesting bush food for sale e.g. ngali nuts
- starting a nursery for propogating endemic timber species (native to Kolombangara)
- keeping bees which assist with pollination of native forest species & generate honey for sale
- coral and sponge farming.