Weekly Review July 11-15

At ID, we often discuss the benefits of mobile phones for those at the Base-of-the-Pyramid. Access to mobile phones is proven to increase financial inclusion and accessibility to basic goods and service. This Weekly Review examines the benefits of mobile phones specifically for migrant workers.

Forty million Indonesians do not have access to formal financial services. This lack of financial inclusion stunts growth and development in the region. The government is working to create solutions for its people. Mobile money services have been successful elsewhere, and would be welcomed by the estimated 70% of the population with mobile phones.  If the government were to “expand the regulatory framework for service providers to use mobile and electronic banking… banks and non-banks [could] provide a wider range of services through low-cost mobile banking solutions such as short message service (SMS).” Importantly, the article notes, this would enable Indonesian migrant workers to send money home easily and safely. In fact, this idea has been proven successful for Filipino migrant workers, who sent “remittances worth millions of US dollars home every month.”
Last year, 4,000 Indonesians worked temporarily in South Korea. So far this year, 3,000 Indonesians have migrated to South Korea to work temporarily. As a result of the rising numbers, the Indonesian government and the National Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers announced a plan to provide 8,000 to 10,000 mobile phones each year to migrant workers. This deal is “in cooperation with the local manufacturer PT Nurkumala Abadi, a subsidiary of South Korea-based LG.” The goal of the plan is to encourage migrant workers to communicate consistently with their families and related government authorities at home to enhance their safety and comfort while working abroad. The government hopes this plan will prevent tragedies like the recent beheading of an Indonesian maid working in Saudi Arabia.
Creation Investment Social Ventures Fund will invest $5.5 million in Eko India Financial Services, a “mobile banking technology provider in India.” Eko India provides financial services India’s unbanked, particularly to accommodate migrant workers. To date, Eko India “has served 912,455 customers through its 1,300 customer service outlets and employs 100 people.” Creation Investments CEO Patrick Fisher states: “We believe that Eko has best-in-class technology which gives easy, secure, inexpensive and convenient last-mile connectivity to the unbanked, migrant workers and the poor.”

Staying in text” by Tammy Grubb via Chapel Hill News  
For Hispanic migrant workers and immigrants living in the United States, learning English can be an overwhelming obstacle to communication. To ease the transition for Hispanics in the US, there is a new SMS messaging service called ReK2 (pronounced reh-CAH-dos). ReK2 helps users learn English by sending daily vocabulary. ReK2 also “sends out weather reports and lets users post and read classified ads” to find work.  More than 450 users in North Carolina and Virginia use the service.

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