The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unimaginable impact on the lives of millions of Filipinos, especially those from marginalized sections of the community.
Over 4.5 million Filipinos have lost their jobs in 2020 and the country’s unemployment rate saw a 15-year high at 10.4 per cent. This translates to income-earners not being able to provide food and necessities for their families, as well as support the educational needs of children.
To help address this challenge, Wells Fargo International Solutions LLC – Philippines (“Wells Fargo Philippines”) partnered with Save the Children Philippines to implement the Financial Resilience for Economic Recovery (FREER) Project, to help alleviate the hardships faced by families living in poverty and whose livelihoods were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and community quarantines.
“We are honored to partner with Save the Children to support the enhancement of financial literacy and employability skills of target beneficaries from low-income families, especially during this pandemic,” said Sandeep Mulajkar, Country Head of Wells Fargo Philippines. “Through this program, we believe we can empower people to become part of a strong workforce and help the Philippines become a more robust economy.”
The FREER Project aims to enable more than 1,850 people and 370 beneficiaries in Malabon, to build their financial resources in the form of savings, and provide access to sustainable financial services to support their livelihood recovery through provision of capital assistance.
“This issue is definitely something we cannot ignore, as the longer it goes unaddressed, the more irreversible its negative impact could be, not only for today’s children, but even for future generations. We thank Wells Fargo for providing a light of hope for the most impacted children and communities by investing in the FREER Project,” said Liza Soberano, Save the Children Ambassador.
Wells Fargo and Save the Children Philippines held a virtual ceremonial check handover on September 9, 2021, underscoring the two organizations’ commitment and shared efforts to advance the economic recovery of Filipinos during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The event was one of the key highlights of Wells Fargo’s 10th Anniversary celebrations in the Philippines and Save the Children Philippines’ 40th year of lifesaving work for and with children in the country.
Arindam Banerrji, Managing Director and Head, Wells Fargo India & Philippines said, “corporate responsibility is an integral part of our culture at Wells Fargo, and is fundamental to our values and how we operate. While we celebrate an important milestone of our 10th year of operations in the Philippines, we are also entering into a new partnership with Save the Children.”
“Save the Children Philippines closely aligns with our CSR approach, which includes a strong focus on issues related to education and skills development. Through this partnership, we are confident that we can help the youth develop skills to become contributing members of the society.”
“Through the FREER project and with Wells Fargo, we can definitely inspire others – including those in power – to put children and young people at the heart of our actions to reduce poverty; to strengthen the low and insecure incomes that prevent children from surviving, learning, and being protected, and thereby stop the transmission of poverty to future generations,” said Atty. Alberto Muyot, Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children Philippines.
The partnership was sealed with Save the Children Philippines awarding Wells Fargo with a limited-edition token that commemorates the child right’s organizations’ global centenary and was capped with a performance by Save the Children Changemaker Lara Maigue.
“Children cannot wait, every minute counts as they look to us for a better future. Children, regardless of who or where they are, should have time and opportunities to enjoy their childhood, and be able to look forward to the future with hope and optimism,” said Muyot.
“We can truly say this partnership is one of the most life-changing things that could ever happen this year for children and families in our communities,” said Soberano.
Aside from the FREER Project, Wells Fargo Philippines also organized a series of virtual events beginning August, to engage with its non-government organization partners and employee volunteers to support corporate social responsibility efforts.