This year’s stay in the Philippines was used by our director Tobias Schüßler to develop a new program with the team of our partner organization Project Life Subic. The aim is to bring the benefits of saving money to the participants of the trainings we support for industrial textile processors, which also to help them to find employment more quickly upon graduation

How does it work?

At the beginning of the 10-week apprenticeship, all participants receive a savings box in the form of a mouse, into which they can throw a small amount of money of up to 40 cents on each course day (i.e. three times a week). This „savings mouse“ is kept in the safe of our partner organization. Participation in the program is voluntary and the participants can take their money back from the savings mouse at any time. In total, the participants can save up to €12 this way – not much by German standards, but for the living conditions of the participants this is more cash than some have at home. In addition, of course, there are also explanations as to why saving money is important and how this can also be achieved after the course.

Savers will get the money back after completing the training and can either store it for emergencies at home or use it to find a job.

How does this help with finding a job?

In order to apply for a job in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone after training, candidates must not only submit their birth certificate (to prevent child labour), application documents and ID copies, but also have to obtain health certificates – this takes time and money and often even more time to save up for the necessary fees. With the savings mouse, we increase the job chances of the participants as they get the necessary documents faster – and the less time between completion of the training and the completed application, the higher the chances for a permanent job!

Background: Saving in Poor Neighbourhoods

Unlike in Germany, money-saving or cash investments are an unattainable luxury commodity for residents in the poorer areas of the Philippines. The vast majority do not have a bank account and few have hidden an emergency fund or a piggy bank at home. Whatever income – whether through a job or their own small business – is usually immediately spent on food and daily needs. If sometimes slightly higher sums of money are available through gifts or other events, they are also quickly used-up, because the learning experience that money saved yields interest, or helps with emergencies has just never happened. This behavior, with exceptions, is certainly as ingrained in Filipino culture as the famous austerity behavior of Germans and is as difficult to change. With our savings mouse program, we take a first step and hope that it encourages participants to always put some money back for the future.