Offering financial literacy to domestic workers in
There are over 340,000 domestic workers living in Hong Kong who come from a variety of backgrounds, looking for opportunities to better their lives and their families through working in Hong Kong. Many begin their journeys as domestic workers already in debt or are currently experiencing financial insecurity with the pressures of supporting their families back in their home countries.
Enrich was formed to empower the domestic worker population through financial literacy. Through a variety of workshops and financial counselling, Enrich has seen many workers make long-term saving plans as well as avoided loan sharks and others who seek to take advantage of their situation. We at Sassy Mama HQ are all about championing the cause of domestic workers and we are so glad organisations like Enrich exist! Read on to see how you can get involved and support this meaningful cause.
Tell us about Enrich and how long you’ve been around.
Enrich is the leading Hong Kong charity promoting economic empowerment of migrant domestic workers through financial and empowerment workshops. Since our establishment in 2007 we have trained more than 10,000 women in more than 650 workshops.
What services do you provide for domestic workers?
Our workshops equip domestic workers with the tools to save, budget and plan for greater financial security. Our workshops cover a range of financial and personal development topics including setting budgets, managing debt, investing money, setting up a business and talking to family about money. Enrich also provides one-to-one financial counselling to address specific financial issues, such as high-levels of debt as well as a hotline for migrant domestic workers and their employers.
What has been one overwhelming need you’ve found when working with domestic workers?
The majority of the 340,000 migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong have left family and children behind to work in Hong Kong in order to feed, clothe, educate and house their immediate and extended family. Earning a minimum of $4,310 per month, migrant domestic workers face enormous pressure to send most (if not all) of their money home. On top of this, most domestic workers come to Hong Kong with huge debts because of illegal employment agency fees (a recent study found an average of $15,000 in debt).
Sadly, most women are not prepared with skills to balance a budget and upon arrival in Hong Kong receive very little support to help them save or plan for their future. Alongside recruitment debt, many migrant domestic workers borrow money in times of need or emergency back home (e.g. typhoons, family and medical emergencies). This is further compounded by easy to access credit; loan agencies in Hong Kong can lend money at interest rates of up to 48% per annum, with the concession of raising interest rates up to 60% per annum for high-risk borrowers, and a cycle of indebtedness can begin. This often results in high levels of depression and a number of negative impacts upon employment when migrant domestic workers are not financially stable, for example debt collection agencies pursuing or harassing the employer.
Share a success story with one of the men/women you’ve worked with.
Nerissa – “I used to take out loans each time I needed extra money without really understanding how loans worked, and the high interest rates. Now, after attending Enrich workshops, I have a four year plan towards a house and to pay for the education of my six year old daughter.”
How can we support Enrich?
You can support Enrich by sponsoring a migrant domestic worker to attend an Enrich workshop ($400) or donate a full scholarship ($1500 for 5 sessions). We are also always looking for volunteers, mentors and corporate partners to support our work. For more information visit: www.enrichhk.org or contact us at [email protected].