As the end of the year approaches, it gives me the perfect opportunity to reflect on the work of CUFA’s team across 2016. The effort to combat poverty sometimes seems insurmountable, but I can honestly say, that I have seen firsthand how CUFA’s work makes a difference.
Our most significant success this year was the first-year roll-out of Youth Pathways for the Future project in Bougainville. In 2015/2016, the project worked with 2,016 young people aged between 15 and 25 years to improve financial literacy, enterprise and employment opportunities. So far we have seen 111 young people undertake an apprenticeship, and 109 young people open their own business. Results are showing massive and positive impacts on the communities. There is more work to be done in our second year in Bougainville.
Thanks to support from organisations such as Teachers Mutual Bank and CPA Australia, Children’s Financial Literacy program in Cambodia continues to create meaningful impact for poor rural children and their families. CUFA has not only extended its reach, but has been able to achieve its most striking innovation. Last year, we launched the Count4Kids digital app which introduces technology into the Children’s Financial Literacy program in Cambodia. Children in the rural poor areas of Cambodia rarely have access to technology, and often not electricity, but our unique program provides lifelong skills in financial literacy and now exposure to technology. We are looking to launch the Children’s Financial Literacy program in Myanmar, please contact me if you’d like to support the new program.
CUFA strengthened its ties with the Asian Development Bank this year, partnering on a new program Strengthening Resettlement and Income Restoration Implementation to increase financial well-being, reduce indebtedness and improve financial literacy in displaced communities in Cambodia. The team in Cambodia has now started an employment placement and social enterprise program for these communities, and we are excited about the project rollout over the next 18 months.
CUFA’s work in Myanmar has grown over the last year, thanks to a partnership with Action on Poverty. With their support, we have trialled a women’s economic empowerment program, developing three village savings groups in remote Taik Kyi province. While these groups are still in the early stages of development, the women in the region are building a strong financial future for themselves and their families.
CUFA has also launched its flagship micro-enterprise program, the Village Entrepreneur in Myanmar, which aims to support small business owners to sustainability. Through a three-year program of training, mentoring and business investment, individuals develop micro-enterprises which lift themselves and their families out of poverty. We continue to search for community investors to support the new Village Entrepreneurs. If you’d like to make a difference with a monthly donation of $39 for three years, please visit ve.org.au.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our donors: the individual community investors, our corporate partners, mutual banking partners and institutional funders. We couldn’t do this work without you. Thank you for your support.
My thanks also go to CUFA’s board of directors – Margot, Peter, Roseanne, Madeline, Hermine (to whom we said farewell this year), and incoming directors Aleks and Stephanie. The board works tirelessly to support the organisation and I look forward to working with them again next year.
I would also like to acknowledge and congratulate the CUFA staff who are tirelessly dedicated to our mission to combat poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.
On behalf of everyone at CUFA, I wish you a happy and prosperous 2017.
– Dr Peter Mason, CEO