Helper Financing

Lately we've had some ladies backing out at the last minute because they have "no money" to pay their fees in the Philippines. Most of our ladies come from backgrounds of extreme poverty, so finding money to pay their fees to our partner agency in the Philippines is always a struggle.  Hong Kong employers worry about helpers having loans, but the truth is that over 90% (my guess) of those who arrives in HK as domestic helpers (no matter where they are from), have borrowed money to get here. So for the first few months of their employment they will be paying off a loan. The Hong Kong governments' "unrealistic" position is that the Hong Kong employer should pay the full cost of employing a helper from overseas, but few employers are willing to do so. Indonesians often pay $20,000 to come to HK. Are you willing to fund their job at that rate? In reality, a helper who pays nothing, often treats the job as a free trip to Hong Kong, and if the going gets "tough" - she can always quit and go home.  

What can we do? Arrow works hard to keep fees for our applicants low. I don't believe there is any agency who has done as much as we have to reduce the burden on their applicants.  At our current level of charges we are only just breaking even (which is not great from a business standpoint), but it is a great help to our applicants. On my last trip I was introduced to two banks in the Philippines who give loans to OFWs at reasonable rates. They are willing to work with our applicants and we hope this will resolve last minute "I don't have any money" -  back outs. 

What can you do? Be realistic. Understand that when your helper arrives she probably has to pay back a loan to someone or some bank. Feel free to ask her about her payment schedule, and be understanding if you find that she has run out of money in the middle of the month. When you feel confident to do so, talk to her about her money management, budgeting etc. She has hopes and dreams, but often lacks the practical money management to reach her dreams. Advice and guidance from you might be the key to lifting her family permanently out of poverty. Don't just give her a job, share your wisdom with her also.  It takes more than a job to lift a family out of poverty. Thanks for your understanding.