Over 2.3 million Filipinos are employed around the world as “Overseas Filipino Workers” (OFW) in a mix of blue collar and professional skilled jobs. These migrants send more than US$33 billion in remittances back to the Philippines annually, which represents over 8 percent of the country’s national income. Lebanon has become a popular destination for migration, and of its estimated 200,000 migrant workers in 2019, approximately 29,000 were Filipinos, mostly women working as domestic workers. Most of these women send a large percentage of their salary home to support family members and often do not save sufficiently for the future. As a result, they are forced to stay in Lebanon by renewing their employment contracts annually or return home with little to show for their time overseas.
 Philippines Overseas Employment Agency statistics
Al Majmoua, Lebanon’s leading microfinance institution (MFI), has been offering migrant workers, primarily from the Philippines, a short-term group lending product for more than a decade. While portfolio quality has consistently been strong (less than .07 percent portfolio at risk), and Al Majmoua believes this lending has helped migrants to cover their periodic financial needs and establish small businesses, the institution has been concerned that the loans are not contributing to the migrant Filipino women’s longer-term socio-economic development. In response, Al Majmoua decided to develop a cross-border support strategy to help migrant worker clients take advantage of their ability to access financial services in Lebanon to improve their livelihoods in the Philippines when they return.
With the support of FMO, the Dutch development bank, Making Cents International was contracted to work with Al Majmoua to develop this cross-border strategy. Making Cents and Al Majmoua conducted both quantitative and qualitative research in Lebanon and the Philippines to understand the situation of Filipino migrants, then co-created a feasible strategy to respond to their financial needs.
This case study, finalized in April 2020, describes the research methodology, summarizes key research findings, and outlines Al Majmoua’s strategy to support the financial health of Filipino migrant workers. Its publication was delayed due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and a series of social and economic crises in Lebanon.