|Marcus Agius, global Chairman of Barclays Group, visits co-op members in Pasay City, Manila.|
By Angela Travis
MANILA, Philippines, 17 March 2009 – Marcus Agius, global Chairman of Barclays Group, recently visited Pasay City in Metro Manila, Philippines, to see how the funds donated by the global banking group are benefiting families living in poverty.
Mr. Agius and his wife, Kate Agius, met families who have benefited from the governments’ Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, and saw how those families were using the additional funds to improve the health and education of their children.
In the overcrowded suburb of Kalayaan, Mr. Agius met the Candelarias, a couple who live with their three children in a one-room rented home. The family earns about $20 per week from the father’s irregular job driving a local bus (known as a jeepney) around the city.
As a result of CCT, the Candelaria family also has been able to invest a small amount in the mother’s small business buying and selling fish. The additional income, though minimal, is improving the life of the family and helping to keep their children in school.
‘Saving for a Rainy Day’
Funds from Barclays and the UK National Committee for UNICEF are supporting livelihood-skills training for other mothers and young people in the community, as well. Mr. Agius, accompanied by UK National Committee Executive Director David Bull, attended one training session; he participated by sharing his experience of saving and investing for the future.
The group also saw the early learning centre supported by the project, where they read a story, ‘Saving for a Rainy Day’, to the 20 assembled four- and five-year-olds. The children were captivated by the story and put the lesson into practice afterwards, when they each received a piggy bank to save their pennies.
Members of the community proudly explained how they set up their Bayanihan Banking Programme, a local community saving initiative enabling members to take small loans for projects and health needs identified and approved by the members.
“It has been a fantastic day and a great opportunity to meet the families and young people that are already receiving support thanks to the UNICEF and Barclays partnership,” said Mr. Bull. “I would like to extend a huge thanks to Barclays for their commitment to this project. Together we can deliver real and sustainable change for many more families like these, both in the Philippines and around the world.”
The visitors ended the day at the Kalayaan High School garden, where they planted a tree to mark their long-term commitment to supporting the community.
The partners’ local ‘Building Young Futures’ project is providing $360,000 over three years to the Philippines, with a focus on two areas in Masbate province and Pasay City, Metro Manila. The global project is supporting similar activities in nine other countries, amounting to a total of $7.3 million over three years.
“This is a ground-breaking, innovative collaboration with a respected, global corporation who have clear expertise in financial and resource management,” said UNICEF Representative in the Philippines Vanessa Tobin, who accompanied Mr Agius on the visit. “The project will benefit 40,000 of the poorest people living in Masbate and Pasay, and is likely to benefit a far greater number through better health and education – and by enabling poor families to begin to build a future for themselves.”