Despite the impressive progress made by member countries of PIWG in financial inclusion in the respective countries, the Pacific region continues to have one of the highest rates of financial exclusion globally and requires sustained commitment to address this problem. This led to the decision taken at the13th meeting held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 8 September 2014 to transform PIWG into a regional initiative. This decision was fully endorsed at the 6th AFI Global Policy Forum. There was a consensus that PIRI was unique in the sense that it has been designed to cover multiple policy topics. There was one more reason that later evolved to be the primary reason for elevation of the PIWG into the regional initiative that we now know as the Pacific Island Regional Initiative (PIRI). That reason was “to identify activities that the group could do together to advance financial inclusion in the region and to build capacity.”
PIRI will continue to adopt the mission set by PIWG which is guided by a vision to ensure that financial products and services are widely accessed and used by all Pacific Islanders. To move forward towards this vision PIRI sets out to create conditions that lead to the financial empowerment of the population of the Pacific Islands. This transformation into a regional initiative will enable members to achieve this vision and related objectives more effectively. In the first year of PIRI implementation, AFI has partnered with the Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme (PFIP)1 to scale up PIRI program and activities with a combination of funding and knowledge resource support.