"I always wanted to be a lawyer like my siblings and cousins. I wanted to go into business studies like the family tradition," recalled Taoi. The reality was different for this young bloke who was instructed to join the bank by his father.
"My dad sent me to find work at the bank and he challenged me to resolve the hassle of waiting in long queues inside the bank," he said. Taoi didn't think twice about the instructions as he himself, as a young boy, endured the wait with his dad.
From clerk to the Head of BSP's microfinance and financial inclusion efforts across rural Fiji, Taoi has earned his place as Fiji's Microfinance Banker of the year. An award he received recently from the Fiji Institute of Bankers earning this high achiever his 13th recognition for service to the industry and country.
Looking back as a young kid growing up on the island of Vanuavatu in Lau, little Isikeli had early recollections of his parents putting money away in jars or under the bed or mats to keep for a rainy day. It wasn't until much later in his banking career that he realized the potential returns in store for facilitating the inclusion of rural people in the mainstream banking system.
At this point, he was employed by a bank that invested in a state of the art electronic banking system that would bridge the geographic divide. "BSP was the first bank to introduce SMS banking in Fiji. We also brought internet banking for customers. I've been fortunate to be in the team that rolled this out to rural Fiji," he said.
A key milestone in Taoi's journey with BSP has been the provision of BSP EFTPOS in rural post offices. This is a partnership made possible through an alliance amongst like-minded organizations that are committed to helping Fiji grow.
Taoi headed the team that travelled across Fiji and installed BSP EFTPoS facility in all 29 rural based Post offices, trained Post Fiji staff and raised awareness within nearby communities to take full advantage of the service.
What this means is that people in the rural areas can now open their bank accounts and deposits and withdraw at one these 29 Post Offices using an easy card on an EFTPoS machine and using their phones to either track their money, transfer, top up their phone credit or pay bills.
"Before they just keep their money at home or send it to relatives in Suva via TMO from the Post Office to deposit in the bank.
"Or using a pass book they do their banking at the Post office, but with this method it usually takes a while to get anything done.