Knowledge

Financial Literacy Training Success in Solomon Islands – A Case Study.

Management at Soltuna, a tuna processor in Solomon Islands, had a problem. It is the only tuna processing company and one of the biggest private employers in this country of more than 1,000 islands in the South Pacific. Still, workers were absent from almost a third of their shifts, most often on Mondays and Fridays and without permission.

Combined with high energy costs, high shipping costs, and poor infrastructure, this made it difficult for the company to compete with tuna processors in Thailand and Philippines.

Soltuna coped by overstaffing shifts to compensate for no-shows. This carried high fixed costs—over $160,000 extra annually, the company estimated. Just bringing Monday and Friday absenteeism down to the level of a typical Wednesday could generate over $1.5 million more in annual revenue from higher production, according to its estimates.

Soltuna wanted to understand what was driving absenteeism, particularly why it persisted despite significant financial incentives for regular attendance, and turned to IFC for help.

An analysis found that 20 percent of workers accounted for half of all absences, and they were often young, married, local women. Workers said they were sometimes were absent because they were strapped for cash and needed to sell in the market to survive until the next pay-check. To address this problem, Soltuna worked with IFC to introduce Financial Literacy Training – training in managing money and household budgets as well as understanding their payslips and the company’s incentive program.

Employment at SolTuna is the first formal job for many workers, who are likely to have come from subsistence agriculture and informal work. Many workers have low levels of literacy and numeracy. In addition, most employees support numerous extended family members.  These factors make it difficult for workers to effectively manage their money.   In order to get cash for immediate needs, for example, some forego a significant attendance bonus by selling in the market, instead of working their shift at SolTuna.

Image: @SolTuna

The Financial Literacy training contributed to significant improvements in financial attitudes and behaviour, as well as an increase in staff attendance at work:

  • The proportion of workers reporting that they ‘always’ had money left the day before payday increased by 120%, from 14% at baseline to 31% at the end of the training.
  • There was an 81% increase in workers having a savings goal.
  • The proportion of workers reporting they made a household budget more than tripled, from 12% at baseline to 39% at completion of the training.
  • Absenteeism among trainee participants reduced from 19% on average before the training, to 13% after the training.
  • Workers also learned how to communicate with their partners and family members about money.

In addition to the measured changes in understanding and behaviour related to financial management, many workers shared stories of positive impact on their lives.

Beverly Micha had worked for SolTuna for four years when she was selected to participate in the pilot financial literacy course. Beverly lives with her husband, their two children, and four other family members in a settlement near the SolTuna plant. Her husband was not initially supportive of her participation in the course, crumpling up the piece of paper with the household budget template she showed him after the first session. But after Beverly saved enough to buy a bale of second hand clothing and sell it at a SBD 3,500 (about $450) profit, he started paying attention. Now with her husband convinced, the couple pools their income, works together to create their household budget, and works towards a savings goal: a family house in their home village.

 

For more information on how Soltuna is addressing gender issues, read the case study.

To learn more about IFC’s work to support gender equality, visit www.ifc.org/gender.

Case study courtesy of:  https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/news_ext_content/ifc_external_corporate_site/news+and+events/news/impact-stories/financial-literacy-training-solomon-islands  Published in May 2017