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Friday, October 18, 2013

Financial Literacy Campaign "Peso-Sense” launched in Philippines with US$220,000 funding from the Western Union Foundation and Western Union Agents

UNDP and CFO lead program aimed at remittance beneficiaries with scalable modules for all Filipinos

Manila, Philippines, October 18, 2013. A nation-wide Financial Literacy campaign - “Peso-sense” - was launched today with a funding pledge of US$220,000 by the Western Union Foundation, the philanthropic arm of The Western Union Company, and Western Union Agents Petnet and eBusiness Services.

The goal of Peso-sense – The Philippine Financial Freedom Campaign - is to improve financial literacy by promoting productive expenditure, greater saving and entrepreneurship among Filipino beneficiaries of international or domestic remittances. 

The campaign, with modules scalable for all Filipino citizens, but especially Overseas Filipinos and their families, will be implemented by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) - the government agency under the Office of the President of the Philippines tasked to promote and uphold the interests of Overseas Filipinos abroad, and to preserve and strengthen ties with Filipino communities overseas. It will be overseen by the United Nations Development Programme Philippines (UNDP).

“Peso-Sense” aims to enhance basic financial acumen and will target students, young adults, business owners, employed, home-makers, and retirees. The program commenced with a “Peso-Sense at Christmas” module providing practical tips for Christmas cheer all year through.
Globally, Western Union serves as a vital financial link for many people who cross borders to work and live, connecting them to their families back home. Last year, the company served approximately 70 million senders – nearly a third of the more than 215 million people who live outside of their home country.

Western Union Foundation President, Patrick Gaston, said, “Western Union’s consumers are ambitious and resourceful and their most important aspiration is to secure their financial future, increase their standard of living and improve their level of education."

“However, for too many, their dreams are delayed or out of reach. What they lack is the encouragement, training and tools to accelerate their aspirations through innovation and new ways of thinking.

“The Western Union Foundation’s mandate is about empowering people to reach their destination through education and knowledge. Our funding of Peso-Sense is about making the journey easy to inspire individual innovation and entrepreneurship.  “Education for Better” is the larger commitment that drives our support for this financial literacy campaign,” he said.

Commission on Filipinos Overseas Secretary Imelda Nicolas declared, “Our Overseas Filipinos deserve their financial freedom considering the blood, sweat and tears they have ‘invested’ while working and living outside the country.  Collaborative initiatives between the government of the Philippines, corporate sector and inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations are crucial to helping them achieve their individual goals and we thank Western Union for initiating this multi-stakeholder campaign.

“The success of our Overseas Filipinos triggers a positive reaction and goes beyond the immediate family circle by supporting community and ultimately nation building. More collaborations means greater intervention; they deserve nothing else,” she said.

UNDP Philippines Country Director Toshihiro Tanaka said, “Financial literacy is an essential component of access to inclusive financial services. It can assist in developing inclusive financial markets by empowering the poor to evaluate options and take responsibility for their financial decisions by choosing products and services best suited to their capacities and needs.

“Growth becomes inclusive when the poor participate in the growth process and share the benefits. With financial literacy, this participation in the growth process can become a reality as the poor develop their capacity to save and invest,” he said.

Western Union, Senior Vice President for East and South Asia, Patricia Riingen, said, “Peso-sense” is a tribute to Overseas Filipinos, and we encourage all Filipinos to participate.  We owe it to these heroes to recognize their hard work and sacrifice away from home by helping their beneficiaries learn how to spend their money more sensibly and constructively."

The majority of Overseas Filipinos representing more than 10 million Filipinos remit money to fund regular expenses such as food, debts and education; however two thirds (64 percent) are not satisfied with how beneficiaries are spending their hard-earned money for lack of financial acumen, according to research conducted by Ipsos and sponsored by Western Union. Nine out of 10 Filipino remitters agreed a financial literacy campaign would be beneficial, the research found.

The World Bank commends the importance of providing financial knowledge to both remitter and beneficiaries, following a 2012 study which found that training only the migrant  is not as effective as training both remitter  and beneficiary in terms of change of  behaviours.

The Philippines is identified globally as one of the Next Eleven (N-11) countries with the potential of becoming the world’s largest economies in the 21st century along with Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa. However it still projects a high poverty incidence at 27.9 percent according to the Philippines National Statistical Coordination Board report in April 2013, while remittance beneficiaries use 43 percent of their funds to service debt repayments according to the current Quarterly Consumer Expectations Survey of the Bangkok Sentral ng Pilipinas.

A collaborative funding initiative from Western Union® anchor Agents Petnet and eBusiness Services, volunteering grants won by Western Union employees and fund-matching and direct grants by the Western Union Foundation, contributed to Peso-Sense.

On full implementation, Peso-Sense will leverage multiple channels to cascade information to Filipinos nationwide, with literature available at Petnet and eBusiness Services locations, at www.pesosense.com, and through video, social media and mobile technology.

A multi-sector financial literacy panel representing government, business, NGO and academic sectors will evaluate and approve content for relevance and effectiveness.



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