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What is the Need and Extent of Poverty in Tonga?
Only 30% of Tongan women are employed and 40% of them are underemployed being engaged in subsistence farming, fishing and handicrafts. 23% of the population lives below the poverty line. Opportunities for salaried employment are scarce.
SPBD Microfinance Ltd (Tonga) - Following the success of SPBD Microfinance (Samoa) Ltd., a replication was successfully launched in the Kingdom of Tonga in July, 2009. SPBD Microfinance Ltd (Tonga) aims to become the leading provider of microenterprise development services for economically-disadvantaged Tongan women over the next 3 years. Financial sustainability was achieved in 2010 and we expect to support nearly 5,000 micro-entrepreneurs by year-end 2012. To achieve this goal, SPBD Microfinance Ltd (Tonga) expanded onto Vava’u at the beginning of 2011 and launched onto the islands of Ha’apai in the second half of 2012. Further expansion onto Eua is planned for 2013. Loans and additional grants will be raised to support the plan. So far, SPBD Tonga has disbursed over TOP 11.2 million or US$ 6 million of loans which is positively impacting 5,000 families or 30,000 individuals = 27% of the population or 1 in 4 Tongans.
Tonga went through a period of violent civil unrest in 2006 but has since then enjoyed political stability. GDP per capital is about USD 1,277. Remittances form 31% of GDP and 82% of households benefit from them.
GDP growth lies at 1.4% in 2011. Labor force participation rate is at 57% which suggests significant levels of informal activity. About 40% of women are self-employed. Most low-income workers are active in subsistence farming, fishing and the production of cultural products.
Four private commercial banks are active in the country: Westpac, ANZ, Malaysian Banking Finance (MBf Bank) and the Tonga Development Bank (TDB).