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TAYO: A start-up promoting financial freedom for migrant workers

Nathania “Tanya” Aritao’s entrepreneurial spirit has brought her to all sorts of places — from studying in Costa Rica to an arts degree in Massachusetts to social entrepreneurship in the Philippines and recently, an MBA in the United Kingdom. “I've always gained energy from starting a new thing, developing ideas, solving problems, building things from scratch, and leading a team,” Tanya said.

In 2012, Tanya joined the core team of a social enterprise that provides sustainable livelihood and training for survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse in the Philippines. Tanya managed the operations and social partnerships for six years. Her work there transformed the way she saw the role of business and entrepreneurship in social justice, which then inspired her to pursue an MBA from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School from 2018 to 2019. She continues her mission to empower vulnerable groups — this time, with her start-up, TAYO International.

Tanya Aritao, an Oxford MBA, will be part of #StartedinOxford Demo Day this week, 18 November 2020 - organised by Enterprising Oxford.

TAYO is a London-based venture that aims to build the financial wellbeing of migrant workers through financial education services and management tools that are simple, rewarding and made for migrants.

Tanya’s international and multidisciplinary background has given her a unique perspective as she undertakes this latest project. “One thread that ties all of my experiences and work together is my love for facilitating learning and discovery, for people from all backgrounds,” she explained.

“TAYO has given me the opportunity to explore scalable solutions for helping others learn and discover — this time with a focus on financial wellbeing and freedom.”

“TAYO was born during my Oxford MBA year. It began as a project with my teammates for our Entrepreneurship course. Initially, we explored working with migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong but we had very limited interactions with our potential clients. Post-MBA, a teammate and I volunteered at a London-based group for migrant domestic workers. When I got to know the workers as individuals — hearing their stories and their experiences — I felt that there was a unique opportunity to fill a gap through TAYO in London and so I took the idea we had on paper and decided to bring it to life.”

“I decided to focus on financial freedom because when we break the vicious cycles of debt, poverty or financial vulnerability, we break more than just financial chains.

When there is financial scarcity, dependency, desperation in families, across generations it can create the circumstances for exploitation, abuse, extortion. I’ve seen many of the worst consequences of this in my work with survivors of trafficking or exploitation in the Philippines and the UK.

When we support people on a journey to financial freedom, it’s not just so they can build up a savings account or follow a retirement plan. A lot of other things can break free in the process things below the surface, things you may not often trace back to money.

It’s a long way to go towards freedom, but one of the first steps for TAYO is to provide opportunities for migrants to learn about money management in a way that feels practical and applicable to their individual context.”

Migrant workers, like most employees who are deeply affected by trends and upheavals in the global economy, are starting to think more and more about their financial health. In the same way that people who feel physically healthy are more active and able to do more with their time, those who feel financially healthy can be more productive and proactive with their finances. This year, Tanya has run workshops with migrant domestic workers in London; since April, she has been conducting a weekly online workshop.

Tanya shared, “I feel a surge of hope and energy when participants leave our workshops feeling inspired, energised or accomplished, even more so when they share their small and big wins as they take control of their finances, whether these involve writing down a plan, clarifying their priorities, or making a confident investment.”

At the moment, TAYO is focused on building a strong online community and developing a mobile app. “The start-up is in its early stages, with a small but currently expanding global team. We are looking for grant and partnership opportunities as we continue to grow,” Tanya said.

“In the next few years we aim to serve a global client base with programs and tools that really make a difference. We’re eagerly learning from our community of migrants and we’re building TAYO together.”

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