Sending Money to Families in Africa – Its Challenges and Solutions
It’s not enough to send money to family members in Africa and fold your arms. Problems may arise if you don’t apply wisdom. And you may cause more harm than good sending money without addressing these problems.
Most families have been torn apart because of financial support they get from their siblings abroad which is something that should have brought happiness. It is sad but true. If you provide financial support without laying a good foundation, things can go wrong. Below is a list of solutions that Diasporans might find useful. Tighten your seatbelt as we unleash them from an experienced point of view. To read about some of the challenges faced with sending money home, click here: https://usafricanimmigrantsgist.com/10523-2/
Leverage the Power of Technology
Western Union and MoneyGram may have dominated the sending of money across borders for decades but are in for some fierce competition from rivals. With the technological growth in the Africa continent, new companies that support fast and affordable transactions are springing up on daily basis. The use of mobile phones is also increasing and will make this possible. In fact, these new tech companies are taking advantage of the increase mobile phone users
According to World Bank, online companies supporting cross border transfers are cheaper than most financial institutions. They charge an average of 5.48 percent but others charge higher. Migrants, who send money home, lose as high as 12% of what they are sending. For transfers to Kenya, Tanzania or Rwanda, fees could be as high as 22 percent. If you are sending $200, then, about $44 could be deducted.
But, many online companies are springing up to help Diasporas save money and make transactions faster. For instance, with Continental Money, Kenyans are only meant to pay just one British pound on any amount they are sending home. And, unlike other transfer agents that may take days, the transaction with these online companies takes less than an hour.
Many providers are springing up on daily basis. And there is pressure even from the World Bank on other big players to lower their fees. You can research on the easiest, cheapest and convenient way to send money, instead of relying on just one service. Compare their services and fees before making decision. Technology is making online transfers easier. Take advantage of it to send money home.
Technology does not only help to reduce transfer fees for Diasporans sending money home. It also makes the process safe and easy. One can send money to a loved one back home without getting worried of the money being diverted. And places in Africa without a physical bank won’t limit the recipient from getting the money too.
Do a Follow up on Whatever You are Sending Home
Trust can be undermined when money is involved. People change their attitude because of money. Someone you trust while in your home country, might have changed due to greed or hardship. So do not be surprised when you get the news that someone you trust has been diverting your money.
What are you expected to do in such situation? Think of when you had a boss who always supervises you. He monitors your movements and asks others questions about you. Under such supervision, you will always want to do the right things, right? That is the same measure you should employ when sending money home.
Whether you are sending the money to your parents through your sibling or friend, always do a follow-up. Ask the recipient how much he or she got. And find out how much fee will be deducted and the exchange rate at the time of sending. In fact, many Diasporas are smarter and more vigilant now than they have ever been.
Carry Everyone Along
Your financial support can tear the family apart when it is one-sided. You must show love to everyone to prevent anyone from getting jealous. If you are sending money to your mother, for example, you can send a meager amount to her relative around. It could be her sister, brother or another relative that live in the same compound or came for a visit that you are aware of.
If the reason you are sending the money is to get your mother or father treated, inform your other siblings about it. If you are sending gifts home, make sure all your siblings get their share. You can also do the same thing to your parents and their relatives to avoid jealousy. I can remember a friend of mine, Alfred. He would always ensure that everyone in the family gets a gift no matter how small.
When anyone calls to complain that they got a smaller package compared to what others got, Alfred would tell them he is going to make theirs bigger and better when next he is sending. In most cases where he had financial issues, he never fails to tell his siblings about it. He believes telling them will make them not to feel jealous whenever he sends below what they are expecting to receive. But, you may never have to deal with such problems if your siblings are not depending on you to survive. If they have something doing, they won’t bother about your gifts unnecessarily.
Teach Families How to Fish
“Teach me how to fish, instead of always providing me with fish” is the word hardworking Africans commonly use. They don’t want to be a liability or be in a position where they will always be asking for money. So, instead of sending money home to fill your siblings’ pockets when they go broke, engage them in some trade. Ask them of any trade that can profit them and invest some money. But, apply wisdom. If they demand $500, for example, give them half of it. Don’t make it seem like you have too much money. If you do, they will always come back for reimbursement when they intentionally or unintentionally eat up the money.
If any of your siblings are interested in learning a skill, don’t hesitate to render support. Just ensure that all of them are engaged. Even if it will take two or three years to get them established, it will benefit you in the long run.
Creating the Impression that you are Wealthy? Watch it!
We know you want to show that you’ve “arrived”, but be cautious. If you make your relatives believe that you have too much money, they will start making unnecessary demands. And when you refuse to fulfill them, they start seeing you as a stingy and a wicked person. You should know how your family members would react when they discover that you are living large. So, only create that impression with the understanding of its consequences.
Coordinate Sending Gifts with Siblings
Coordinate the sharing and sending of gifts with your other siblings abroad if and when you can. If you have other siblings or relation abroad also sending money, then explore the possibility of pulling gifts to home together, and volunteer to coordinate the process. The main reason for doing this is to ensure gifts (money, clothes, gadgets) are shared properly. It could help prevent a situation whereby family members at home feel less sensitive about whether you are fair to them or misinterpreting whether you care about them. Co-sending might also deter unnecessary pressure and financial demands on you. It’s equally economical on your part plus you might save big on fees and shipment charges.
Be very careful when investing in major project back home
Whether it’s a business investment and/or a significant project that requires larger capital investment, it’s sensible to have family members champion it, but then again, it could be the most senseless decision. If you choose to not invest abroad around you, be prepared for the dilemma that comes with investing back home. Consider the points below:
-Confront the decision to invest home in the first place-pros and cons, risk analysis, etc
– be prepared to travel back and forth to monitor project,
-have an independent contractor monitor your project along with any family member you put on the project, and maintain separate lines of communication and report detailing.
-Use all that you can get with technology- spy camera and other digital aids, hire 24/7 watch guard, etc
-Get all your legal papers right on the project. If its building a house, have your -Certificate of Occupancy and other surveying paperwork tight, devise a better way to deal with territorial gangs who won’t stop bugging perpetually knowing you are based abroad.
Wrapping it up
Wisdom is the principal thing when sending money back home and dealing with relatives that are far away from you. The list above isn’t exhaustive, we’d like to hear your thoughts. How do you deal with the hurdles involved in sending money home? What can you share for others in our community to learn from? Please use the comment section below to share.
Written by Clement Okperigho; edited by US African Immigrants Gist.