Overseas Filipinos sent more than $US 25 billion back home in 2013. World Bank records reveal that from Germany alone, remittances to the Philippines reached $US 204 Million in 2012.(1)
These remittances have sustained the Philippine economy ever since labor migration became state policy under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the middle of the 70s. They fund children’s education, housing and health services and sustain families of millions of overseas Filipinos. However, these remittances have hardly contributed to sustainable development in the Philippines at the micro-level, particularly in the communities and families of overseas Filipinos. Lack of savings and investment among migrants, social costs of migration on families, and the adverse impact of migration on agriculture are just some of the issues and concerns at the community and family levels, according to studies.
Much remains to be done to maximize the long term positive impact of remittances on the families and communities of overseas Filipinos. This is the reason why PHILNETZ e.V., in partnership with Atikha Overseas Workers and Communities Initiatives Inc. (ATIKHA), organized a series of financial literacy seminars for Filipino migrants now based in Germany. Funded by the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM), the seminars were part of a project that aims to improve participants´ skills in managing their financial resources so that they can save, invest and do business in the Philippines.(2) They provided information about environmentally friendly business enterprises in provinces like Cebu and Batangas where migrants can invest and which can benefit from skills that they have learned abroad.
The project started with a Forum on Migration and Development that was conducted at the Gemeindezentrum St. Meinolphus – Mauritius in Bochum on May 24, 2014. This was then followed by a four day Training of Trainers on Financial Literacy that was also conducted in Bochum from May 29 to June 1, 2014. It was attended by migrant leaders from Hamburg, Bremen, Frankfurt and several North-Rhine Westphalian cities who later became the trainers and speakers in the Financial Literacy seminars that followed in Hamburg, Berlin, Bochum and Bonn. Among the topics that were discussed: negative and positive effects of migration, family income management, budgeting, basic strategies in savings and investment, challenges of bi-national marriages and family issues that affect migrants´ abilities to achieve their migration goals.
ATIKHA´s executive director Mai Dizon-Añonuevo and deputy executive director Aileen Constantino-Peñas acted as trainers and speakers. Sociology professor Augustus Añonuevo from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños also gave lectures about the Nexus between Migration and Development.
Seminar participants were invited to join the campaign „Pinoy Worldwide Initiative for Investment Savings and Entrepreneurship“ (Pinoy WISE). They may avail of mentoring and counselling services so that they can set up their own business or invest in existing green economic enterprises that have become partners of PINOY WISE in the Philippines. They may also become partners of ATIKHA in its Ekolife Homestay Ecotour program, which assist migrant families in operating home stay accomodation in several provinces in the Philippines or invest in business establishments for renewable energy sources.
PINOY WISE was initiated by a network of NGOs, cooperatives, and microfinance institutions in partnership with government and private sector to encourage overseas Filipinos and their families to save and invest their money in sustainable business endeavors. ATIKHA had also launched the campaign in Italy, Quatar, United Arab Emirates and in some Philippine provinces like Batangas and Laguna.
Published @ The Migrant - Newsletter of the Philippine Community in Berlin
December 2014, Berlin