On Friday, December 18, we celebrate International Migrants Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness about the challenges that international migrants face. One of the greatest of these challenges is the lack of economic empowerment.
Economic empowerment is the ability to take control of one’s personal finances and resources. Many migrants are trapped in a cycle of debt and poverty and this is what pushes them to become migrant workers in the first place. Unfortunately, they remain trapped in that cycle while working in different countries.
Having a good level of financial literacy can help migrant workers, particularly migrant domestic workers, in practical ways: One there is less chance that someone will exploit their financial need; two, it can increase their ability to cope with sudden work issues, such as losing their jobs or a decrease in pay.
In addition, learning new skills can be very helpful to migrants as they look for new or different jobs, or go back to their home countries to start a business.
There are many organizations around the world that seek to help migrants develop financial literacy and various skills as they journey towards economic empowerment. Here are some of them:
Alalay sa Kaunlaran (ASKI) Incorporated
ASKI is a non-stock, non-profit organization committed to the promotion and development of micro and small-to-medium enterprises and the delivery of social services. In the Philippines, they operate in different parts of Bulacan, Cagayan, La Union, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and other areas.
They also have ASKI Global Limited, which recognizes the presence of migrant workers in Singapore. This organization supports the economic and social development of OFWs by offering courses that can help them build their own businesses (small and medium enterprises). These courses are: Basic Entrepreneurship, Financial Education, and Communication and Personality Development. ASKI also aims to change OFWs’ mindsets and remittance behaviours through these courses.
ATIKHA Overseas Workers and Communities Initiative, Inc.
Atikha is a non-government organization that provides economic and social services to overseas Filipinos and their families in the Philippines. It aims to help address the social cost of migration and tap the development potential of migration.
Atikha conducts training and mentoring for migrants and their families as well. Some of these trainings include financial education, starting and/or improving your own business, and skills and entrepreneurship training (e.g. ecotourism, beauty care, goat raising) in coordination with TESDA.
Philippine Bayanihan Society Singapore
One of the objectives of the PBSS is to promote skills upgrading among Filipino workers and enhance socio-cultural ties between Filipinos and Singaporeans. The Society also has a physical centre in Singapore where celebrations and meetings are held, and where all Filipino workers in Singapore are welcome. The centre is also where short-term courses are conducted, such as business counselling, computer training, dressmaking, and so on. The PBSS also has an educational grant programme where they give scholarships to Filipinos in Singapore who wish to pursue further education, whether a certificate course or a 2-to-4 year degree.
Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation Inc.
This NGO based in the Philippines focuses on migrant workers and social entrepreneurship within the country. They pioneered the approach of directing migrants' savings into business and enterprise development in some of the poorest areas of the country.
Unlad also works in destination countries overseas as well as in the Philippines. They provide financial assistance through a Savings and Investment Mobilization programme, a Credit Assistance Programme (for micro, small, and medium enterprises), and financial literacy education and training. This includes training modules for migrants on savings and alternative investment, managing your money, and enterprise development.
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Of course, this list won’t be complete without mentioning TAYO! We are 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. You can read more about us here and here.
This article is part of our #WeAreMigrants campaign in celebration of International Migrants Day 2020.