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TAKING HEART

Equipping migrant domestic workers with financial skills

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Experian's support has assisted Aidha to provide training to over 2,000 students since 2016 with impact data showing positive effects.

Singapore

EXPERIAN, a global information services company, has partnered Aidha, a women's charity organisation in Singapore, to help migrant domestic workers achieve economic independence through financial education.

Jacqueline Loh, chief executive officer of Aidha, said: "Domestic workers contribute so much to the lives of families here in Singapore but recent research has shown that only 6 per cent have saved enough by the time they return home, even after many years of working abroad. Employers who care about their domestic worker's future should encourage her to equip herself with essential financial decision-making skills that can literally change her life. Close to half of our students enrol because of the support from their employers, so employers can play such a critical role."

A Frost & Sullivan report showed that 250,000 Migrant Domestic Workers (MDW) contributed a total of S$11.1 billion in 2018 to the Singapore economy, which amounts to 2.4 per cent of the Republic's GDP. However, it also said that MDWs face challenges in managing their finances, with almost half (49 per cent) not having access to a bank account.

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The study showed that despite the positive economic impact generated by this group of people - for example, freeing mothers to participate in the labour force added S$3.5 billion to the Singapore economy - many are financially excluded. At the same time, according to the report, one-third of Singapore (34 per cent) MDWs are in debt, mainly attributed to existing loans taken when dealing with emergencies.

Dev Dhiman, managing director, South-east Asia & Emerging Markets, Experian, said: "Our corporate responsibility efforts in the region have always focused on enabling greater financial inclusion across genders and socio-economic groups in Asia-Pacific. We understand the importance of financial literacy and we saw how Aidha was focused on driving greater opportunities for lower-income women through financial education. Our collaboration with Aidha was a natural step to help empower migrant domestic workers with financial and entrepreneurial skills."

Mr Dhiman added that the hard work and dedication of migrant domestic workers tend to be understated and the report highlighted that several MDWs face difficulties due to their lack of financial knowledge.

"That is why we are excited to collaborate with our NGO partner Aidha in Singapore to empower MDWs," he said.

To date, Experian's support has assisted Aidha to provide training to more than 2,000 students since 2016 with impact data showing significant increases in savings, asset ownership and business ownership. In 2019, Experian will work with Aidha to enhance the digital and online aspects of the financial literacy programme, with the aim of enabling 1,000 more women outside of Singapore, including their alumni who have returned home.

Rhea G Subong, a migrant domestic worker, said: "I have been part of Aidha's programme since 2016 and have learnt a lot of new topics through these focused training and mentoring sessions. Being at Aidha has been a life-enhancing experience for me, helping me gain a wealth of knowledge and the confidence to think bigger and do better."

Commissioned by Experian in partnership with charity organisation Enrich, the report, titled The Value of Care: Key Contributions of Migrant Domestic Workers to Economic Growth and Family Well-being in Asia, surveyed 300 MDWs in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore in late-2018 on their personal finance habits and contributions to the economy.