With the successful implementation of the Oxfam Unblock Cash Transfer program in SANMA province, Oxfam’s private sector partner the Vanuatu Business Resilience Council (VBRC) has now begun work to extend this program to Tanna.
The combined impact of volcanic ashfall and the loss of incomes related to COVID-19 is affecting people’s livelihood and created hardship in areas of Tanna Island.
Oxfam is providing humanitarian assistance up to 800 families from the most affected vulnerable groups as identified by local partners World Vision, Vanuatu Red Cross, VCC and TAFEA Provincial Council.
One of the unique aspects of the Unblocked Cash Program is that by delivering support in terms of cash via a card payment system, it supports local businesses who are the ones delivering the goods to their communities.
This in turn means the money stays in the local economy. Following the awareness conducted for Lenakel businesses, last week the VBRC in partnership with Oxfam and in collaboration with World Vision Tanna assisted to identify and register 71 local business owners in Tanna.
This includes shops, transport operators, bakeries, butchers and fresh food market vendors in Lenakel black man town and Whitesands areas. Most of the business owners expressed their gratitude as the program will commence in December the most busy period for businesses.
This stimulus to the economy will assist the families in need, and support businesses in the province also. The program is scheduled to operate for 3 months commencing December through to February.
The 71 business owners will be the first on Tanna to drive the “tap and pay” system which is a new mode of payment through mobile phones and blockchain technology, using a smartphone app, developed by Senpo, an Oxfam partner.
This will be an exciting opportunity for these vendors as the program extends to the grassroot level which in turn upgrades their skills to another level of using digital technology.
Out of the 71 vendors 31 are women business owners as this program strongly encourages involvement of women and support of their business skills.
This will be a challenging experience for these women especially market vendors but a good opportunity for them to participate and learn a new method of doing business.
This will in turn give them confidence and build their skills in financial literature which will be a good example to other market vendors.
Oxfam and VBRC would like to acknowledge the generous funding support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for their support of this program.