PRESS RELEASE: INVEST Project for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Fisheries Supply Chains

BALI, July 11, 2019 – Under USAID’s INVEST initiative, MDPI has been awarded a project to develop and test an approach that incorporates FinTech solutions and women’s economic empowerment activities alongside the electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) app, Trafiz. The main objectives of this project are to improve the role of women in small-scale fisheries through women’s empowerment activities that lead to improved livelihoods and greater involvement in the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM).

The target area of this project is North Sulawesi, initially focusing on the three areas overlapping with MDPI’s work under the USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (Manado, Bitung and Sangihe) with the option for expanding beyond these areas being assessed. The target fishery is the small-scale handline tuna fishery of North Sulawesi. Previously, MDPI has piloted Trafiz, an Android-based app developed by Altermyth, in partnership with MDPI, for three male suppliers in North Sulawesi, with support from USAID Oceans, and three female suppliers in North Maluku, with support from USAID SEA project.

It is known that women also play a key role in these supply chains, in terms of transfer of fish from one actor to the next and therefore there is potential in expanding the use of the app to these female actors to gather a wider coverage of data. It is also hypothesized that the input of data could be motivated through the incentive of an enabling financial service embedded in the Trafiz app. One of the examples of the women’s involvement in these small-scale fisheries can be seen in Bitung, North Sulawesi, where 50 percent of the existing workforce in the wholesalers node are women. They often have an important role in financial management in the households. However, women often face barriers in accessing financial services, in terms of limited or no collateral, especially in small-scale enterprises. Financial literacy amongst supply chain actors could also be strengthened for household benefits. This INVEST project aims to help support the role of women in this fishery supply chain, particularly related to financial management and fisheries management engagement.

This INVEST project will cover four objectives: assessment of barriers to finance faced by women in small-scale fisheries (SSF) and integration of FinTech tools into Trafiz, delivery of women’s empowerment activities that leads to improved livelihoods and greater engagement in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM), increase women’s influence in planning and implementing EAFM, and implement mixed-methods data collection to support the Learning Initiative.