Banking for the people…

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National Bank of Vanuatu (NBV) continues to engage with communities through its ‘door step’ banking service. One example was the recent visit of cruise ship MS Paul Gauguin to Waisis Bay, on the island of Tanna.

About an hour and a half drive from Lenakel town, Waisisi village is situated on the North East coast of Tanna along a stretch of black sandy beach. The village sits in a beautiful sheltered bay off the end of a ridge that runs all the way from Yasur.
NBV officers Ken Suran and Eva Noukout travelled from the bank branch in Lenakel to Waisisi, to provide foreign exchange service to both villagers and tourist alike.
Officer Ken Suran, commented that, “This is a new and exciting experience for me in providing services to people.”
This is one of the many rural services the bank offers to remote communities. NBV’s community banking has gained recognition for supporting community banking allowing bank officers to travel to communities.
The village is home to around 200 people and due to heavy volcanic ash, villagers have to walk about 10 km inland to garden. The recent devastation caused by Cyclone Pam early this year, and the current effects of El Nino, is impacting the families and their wellbeing.
“If parents are too tired to walk and tend to their food gardens, the children will depend on water to sustain themselves until food is available”, says Officer Eva Noukout.
The village is now hoping that tourism can provide an alternative source of income to sustain their basic needs and had put all their efforts into preparing for the cruise ship visit.
The support provided by the bank through their presence in the community, allowed them to change their dollars and save any little money they may have earned. Otherwise, they would have spent money to pay for transport to Lenakel just to access the foreign exchange service. Arriving at Waisisi, the bank officers were welcomed by the manager of TAFEA Tourism Silvain Tagabu and Abel Nako, Tour Agent of MS Paul Guaguin and owner of Trek Vanuatu. A queue of tourists patiently waited to exchange foreign currency for vatu to purchase local items such as colourful handcrafted souvenirs from the mamas’ market.
The NBV officers were happy to be of service to the community of Waisisi on the day and had received positive comments from the village leaders. NBV will continue to develop initiatives to improve service to rural communities, especially those in remote parts of Vanuatu.