We are Red Dot Juanderers. And this is our Singapore story.
Initially established as a microfinancing organization in the Philippines back in 1986, ASKI (Alalay Sa Kaunlaran, Inc) Group of Companies has since then branched out to various divisions which now include ASKI Global, the overseas arm of the group that envisions to empower, educate, and equip migrant workers with entrepreneurial and financial literacy skills. We spoke to May Garlitos, the International Relations Manager of ASKI Global, to learn more about their mission and programs.
What is the Core Vision of ASKI Global?
We are a global development organization that is committed to the holistic transformation and change of mindset of migrant workers while training them on entrepreneurship and financial literacy. When they are educated and empowered, they become more productive. We aim to make everyone’s experience in Singapore more meaningful.
Our core programs include: Basic Entrepreneurship (8x Sundays), Basic Finance Education (3x Sundays), Advance Finance Education (4x Sundays), and Personality Development & Communication (5x Sundays). Once they finish their courses, they get recognized as graduates of the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) CSR program.
What are the Key Social Issues You Wish to Address?
We conducted a survey previously, which also matches the studies of the department of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and it showed that our migrant workers usually send 100% of their hard-earned money back home to their families. These are unfortunately used unproductively (e.g. to buy gadgets, to spend on birthday parties or fiestas, etc.). In our programs, we train our students to save and to come up with their own business plans (whether to start an internet cafe, piggery, etc.). We also provide “Back-to-Back” training programs where we educate their respective family members back home how to have an aligned financial mindset and vision.
How Many Students Have Been Part of ASKI Global?
Since the group’s registration in Singapore back in 2011, there have been over 6,000 trained students (attended at least one class) and over 3,500 graduates (completed the whole course) of ASKI Global. We primarily target Filipino migrant workers, but we also get Indonesian, Malaysian, and Bangladeshi enrollees. We get mostly female students, but there are also men who join our programs.
What is an ASKIan?
We are STEWARDS of God here on earth – we need to use our resources productively. We are ACTIVE IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT – we work with/for the grassroots and the marginalized. We are ENTREPRENEURIAL.
What are Some of the Successful Stories You’ve Had in the Past?
One of our former students now owns a two-storey house which she uses to rent out to locals in her hometown. She also owns now a convenience store and a pump boat which they use to transport tourists from island to another. Another student from General Santos City, who is an Engineer and a S-Pass holder here, has actualized her business plan of owning a 14-room rental apartment.
The lessons you get from our programs are very practical. We always tell our students to always find a gap in the market and build a business from there aligned with your own passion.
How Can Other People Help/Support ASKI Global?
We’ve had international and local corporate partners in the past such as Mastercard, Citi, and Jollibee. Some of the volunteers we have are from these tie-ups. The volunteers do a range of things from handling classes to operations and admin work. Aside from Filipinos, we also have volunteers who are Kiwis, Americans, Chinese, and Singaporeans. We also encourage house owners/anyone to “Sponsor a Helper” to help fund their courses.
Where Do You See ASKIans In the Future?
They should be looking at going back home for good to their families, to contribute to the economy/community, and to establish their own enterprises. The heart of ASKI is “Family Reunification.” A family is the basic unit of the society. We aim to make families intact and not be disintegrated.
About the Red Dot Juanderer:
We are constantly on the lookout for inspiring, aspirational, and relatable stories from our fellow Juans living and working in the Little Red Dot. If you know any Filipino in Singapore that should be our next Red Dot Juanderer, email us at [email protected] // Interviews and photos by Paolo Avis; Assisted by Jaypee Quitco.