Western Union now has employed a full-time, on-site staff person who will be in charge of program implementation and draw on corporate and Foundation staff from around the world, as appropriate, to execute regional and local program implementation.
Western Union also will provide funding for a dedicated Mercy Corps development expert to engage with Mercy Corps staff and be responsible for on-the-ground services delivery. Over the next two years, Western Union and Mercy Corps collectively will engage in activities targeted at spurring financial inclusion of migrants and their families, such as the:
- Adaptation of existing financial management curriculum to match the specific needs of migrant workers and the cultural and geographic elements of different migrant populations in key cities
- Rollout of financial management training activities in a minimum of 10 cities in at least 6 countries with large populations of resident migrant workers
- Financial management information campaigns in 10 countries on broadly applicable finance issues; and
- Facilitation of linkages between financial education activities in both migrant locations and home countries that lay the groundwork for cross-border training and financial services.
Specific Program Element Implementations:
Our World Gives
Western Union is developing a community investment fund and new global giving circles. It will pilot a local investment fund in India and global giving circles that will enable employees, agents, and others to pool their funds to advance education and development efforts. It will prioritize the extension of access to capital and financial services to communities that have been outside the economic mainstream.
Our World Learns
Western Union will create Learning Packs targeted to the unique financial literacy and language skill needs of migrants around the world. Starting in the fourth quarter of 2008, 60,000 packs will be distributed in the Middle East with another 50,000 packs slated for distribution in the Philippines. Western Union also will commit ,000 in the fourth quarter of 2008 and an additional ,000 in 2009 for the upcoming launch of family education scholarships. The company is in the final stages of negotiations with a prospective NGO partner to work with Western Union, Mercy Corps, and local NGOs to introduce these scholarships.
Our World Strives
As part of the social needs assessment, the partners identified potential approaches to stimulating small-business entrepreneurship and income generation for migrants who are longer-term residents in their destination countries, as well as communities experiencing high net migration outflows. Western Union also conducted a beta-test of the volunteer mentor corps as a proof-of-concept, engaging a U.S.-based employee as a mentor for an entrepreneur from Guatemala.
Western Union is now prepared to announce a broader pilot of a hands-on program that will deliver customized mentoring for low-income entrepreneurs. The pilot will begin in October, 2008, starting with Guatemalan and Filipino migrants in Los Angeles. As part of this effort, Mercy Corps will extend 'MicroMentor,' its online mentoring service for micro-entrepreneurs, to Western Union customers using Western Union employees and Agents as potential mentors. The company also will pilot ways to extend the impact of in-person services through interactive financial empowerment and educational tools.
Our World Speaks
Western Union is extending its commitment as an advocate for migrants, seeking to create systemic change. As part of this effort, the company plans to serve as a convener of leading migration experts, academics, government representatives, NGOs, and others for a more fact-based dialogue on the issues surrounding migration.
The company has formed a Western Union Digital Ventures group to develop new and creative ways to deliver remittances on a global basis. In aligning with m-banking and m-wallet initiatives, the company intends to provide a new channel for moving low denomination remittances, with an emphasis on those less-than , in greater volumes to more people.
Western Union and the GSM Association (GSMA), a global trade group representing more than 700 GSM mobile phone operators, are working together to develop a commercial and technical framework that mobile operators can use to deploy services that enable consumers to send and receive low-denomination, high-frequency money transfers using their mobile phones.
In second quarter of 2008, Western Union announced the first three mobile operators to participate in this initiative: Globe Telecom, Smart Communications, and Bharti Airtel. Western Union will seek to learn from these efforts and to develop strategic alliances to introduce or support mobile-based initiatives for underserved communities in more than 15 countries spanning Africa, India, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
At full deployment, people will be able to send and receive funds three ways: Cash-to-Mobile; Mobile-to-Cash; and Mobile-to-Mobile.
Western Union and the Western Union Foundation are in a unique position to be a catalyst for positive economic change within diaspora communities. In addition, as Western Union opens up new channels and increases the efficiency of moving money, volumes will increase and costs will come down. This will benefit consumers and encourage philanthropy in diaspora communities around the world.
Together with Mercy Corps, Western Union will introduce new program elements and implement limited-scale pilot efforts. This will empower financially disadvantaged migrant workers to better manage their earnings, save for the future, and ultimately generate greater wealth from their labor by providing personal financial management training and information campaigns.
Primary beneficiary audiences will include migrants and communities experiencing high rates of migration outflows and inflows, both in developed and emerging markets. Primary participant audiences will include Western Union's network of 355,000 Agent locations, more than 5,800 employees, corporate and NGO partners, and governments, many of the 200 million migrants around the world. In the next year, this program will reach at least 285,000 people, and 375,000 in the next two years.
Through innovative approaches in addressing the needs of this group, Western Union hopes to help harness migrant workers potential in serving as an economic engine for both home and host countries. The program will focus on both capacity-building and extending access to capital and financial services to communities that traditionally have been outside of the financial mainstream. Seeking to engage the affluent in new solutions, Western Union also invites new partners to join this effort to provide access to financial services to hundreds of millions of underserved people around the world.