App to Get You Out of Debt Launched

By Cheryl M. Arcibal

WANT to be debt-free and grow your savings?

There’s an app for that! Really!

Enrich, a charity here in Hong Kong that provides financial education to migrant domestic workers, capped off its 2015 by launching an app that “will encourage migrant women to identify  and plan for their goals”.

The MoneyWise mobile application, available on both the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for Android devices, was launched on December 13, 2015 in Chater Road, Central and “hopes to inspire migrants to save and spend responsibly to enable them to reach these goals and dreams.”

Lenlen Mesina, Enrich executive director, said that as of December 16, there were 50 to 60 active users of the app.

She added that the app makes available to anyone the “Money Wise Migrants” workshop where participants are taught to write down their goals and compute how much they need to save daily, weekly, and monthly to reach that goal.

“We are expecting some delayed reaction since it’s so difficult for them (migrant domestic workers) to download the app while outside,” she said.

During the launch in Central, Mesina said one misconception among the foreign domestic workers about the app is that it comes with a fee.

“They thought we were selling it, but the app is entirely free. There will be no add on, and they would never expect any advertisements. In the future, it will be enhanced by probably just addressing glitches, or issues or problems or incorporate other tools that we think are needed as people use it more,” she said.

The app was developed in partnership with JP Morgan and Chase’s social innovation project, Force for Good Program. Other partners during the app’s launch included corporate volunteers from Barclays, and students.

For 2016, Enrich is hoping to initiate more events and organize outreach programs for the migrant worker community.

Lecture series lined up for next year are about investments, setting up a business, return and reintegration to home country, and rights and duties of migrant workers in Hong Kong.

Mesina also said Enrich is looking forward to initiating for the first time projects with the Consulate General of Indonesia.

“We are pro-actively working in partnership with the Indonesian and Philippine consulates. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do more projects with the Indonesian consulate because we have been a long-time partner of the Philippine Consulate,” she said.

Data culled from Enrich’s survey of 100 migrant women in 2014 show that almost all (97 percent) of them were in debt, and one in five of them only had savings of under $6,000 despite working in the territory for several years now.

In October, the Hong Kong government raised the minimum allowable wage for domestic workers by $100 to $4,210.



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