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Cultivating financial wellness among Filipinos

BDO Foundation partnered with Huawei Philippines to co-fund the development of financial literacy videos, which will form part of an ongoing financial education program for the Philippine National Police. The partners also agreed to finance the production of a second batch of curriculum-based videos on early numeracy, which will be used in the teaching of Mathematics and Science to Grade One pupils. Through the aforementioned projects, the partners aim to enhance the economic well-being of police personnel, help improve basic education and continue contributing to the government’s efforts to empower Filipino educators and learners. The memorandum of agreement was signed by (from left) BDO Foundation Trustee Evelyn Salagubang, Trustee Lucy Co Dy and President Mario Deriquito, as well as Huawei Philippines Public Affairs and Communications Department Director Hu Weihua and Public Affairs Manager Liang Jiahao.

Proper financial planning is like opening a door to many opportunities in life, including an improved quality of life, better cash flow management, building wealth, and achieving financial security and independence. However, financing might appear intimidating, especially with the need for more financial literacy. As such, individuals and businesses should have the knowledge and skills to thrive in the market.

Knowledge of financing leads to better financial decisions. A survey by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), titled Financial Inclusion Survey (FIS), revealed low levels of financial literacy among younger Filipinos (15 to 29 years old) and underserved sectors.

Specifically, only 2% of Filipinos are financially literate, with only 27% owning a bank account. At the same time, the survey showed that most respondents have basic skills in math, and less than half lack the need to gain knowledge on topics like inflation and compounding interest.

Notably, the survey also showed that workers with the least access to financial services are farmers (73%) with no bank accounts, followed by workers for private households (48%) and self-employed individuals (45%).

These numbers indicate that achieving financial health among many Filipinos is still a work in progress. Nevertheless, access to financial services has been improving in the past years. This includes a surge of account ownership and account penetration increasing by 56% in 2021, resulting in over 22 million Filipinos opening an account during that time, showing that financial inclusion is taking place in the country.

BDO Foundation President Mario Deriquito

For BDO Foundation President Mario A. Deriquito, the key to addressing sector gaps is financial education.

“As early childhood development sets the foundation of every person, introducing financial literacy in formative years is important,” he said.

“Because of this situation, the appropriate intervention should be to incorporate financial literacy concepts on all levels of the educational system — K to 12, technical-vocational education, and higher education,” Mr. Deriquito added.

To further promote financial wellness, BDO’s corporate social responsibility arm, BDO Foundation, empowers individuals through financial education programs.

Among these initiatives are partnerships focusing on incorporating financial education into primary education. Through partnerships with the Department of Education (DepEd), the Financial Education Policy was established, where financial literacy concepts are added to curriculum and training programs.

In the implementation of such policy, the BSP and BDO Foundation developed learning materials that cover lesson plans for general subjects, as Mr. Deriquito said. Also, the foundation, Huawei Philippines and Knowledge Channel Foundation developed videos for early numeracy, which contain financial literacy concepts.

The construction of the tech-voc training facility for the Don Bosco TVET Center in Balamban, Cebu was funded by BDO Foundation and contributions from BDO employees.

For technical-vocational students, financial stewardship is integrated into the curriculum and other e-learning programs that support TESDA and Don Bosco TVET Network.

Meanwhile, financial education is added to curriculums and internship programs in higher education, in partnership with the National University and Asia-Pacific College.

BDO Foundation also brings financial education to the underserved sectors, including farmers and fisherfolks.

For its contributions to the development and ongoing implementation of a financial education program for Filipino fishers, BDO Foundation received recognition from Asiamoney, Enterprise Asia, League of Corporate Foundations, and Retail Banking & Finance.

Due to the lack of knowledge in financing, there remains a gap in the sector, hindering farmers and fisherfolks from expanding their businesses and escaping poverty. Thus, in partnership with the BSP, Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) and the Department of Agriculture, the foundation developed a training program called “Kita Mo Na!” that trains farmers and livestock raisers on proper financial management.

Further promoting financial literacy and inclusivity beyond Philippine borders, the BDO Foundation developed financial education programs for migrant workers and their families. This includes Pinansyal na Talino at Kaalaman (PiTaKa), an initiative to empower migrant workers by helping them manage their finances, increase their savings, and reach financial stability and independence. Other programs include financial education in the Department of Migrant Worker’s Pre-Migration Orientation Seminar (PMOS) and the National Reintegration Program.

“[This program] entails long-term planning — including financial planning — by OFWs and their families,” Mr. Deriquito said.

BDO Foundation also aims to serve other sectors by embracing financial education and developing financial education projects alongside different government agencies.

“Out of our 10 government partner agencies, eight have already embraced financial education as a program they will regularly offer to their constituencies through the issuance of enabling policies defining the place of financial education in their respective institutions,” Mr. Deriquito shared.

“This means they will continue to implement the financial education programs even when the support from the foundation has ended. As of the end of 2023, BDO Foundation’s financial education programs have reached close to seven million beneficiaries,” he added.

With BDO Foundation’s initiatives and unwavering commitment, critical developments in the financial sector will continue, and the Philippines is one step forward to a resilient and financially inclusive future.

“BDO continues to find ways to develop products and services that will lower the entry barriers for the underserved sectors, including students, farmers, fisherfolk, persons with disabilities, etc.,” he assured.

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