Being separated from family by moving to work abroad is tough.
However, millions of people worldwide make that sacrifice so as to earn better wages and then send remittances home to the families they left back home.
Kenyans living and working abroad send regular remittances, thus helping build the nation. It is a fact that Kenya receives more remittances than the rest of Sub‐Saharan Africa.
Generally, the World Bank estimates that the amount of money migrant workers send back home is triple the amount of aid budgets of the rich donor countries.
However, much of the money is not put to productive use, largely due to limited knowledge on the opportunities available for putting remittances into strategic investments, and the knowhow.
Due to the huge sums involved, remittances are now being recognised as an important contributor to the country's growth and development.
Remittances from the Diaspora, though private funds, can be enhanced for development and poverty reduction.
Banks that are helping Kenyans in the Diaspora access financial services locally are thus helping grow the economy and boost the country’s development.
Previous surveys on Diaspora remittances revealed that households have been making productive investments in land, housing, businesses, farm improvements and agricultural equipment.
This can be compared to remittances spending on consumption activities in food, clothing, marriages or funerals, rent and cars.
Remittances are crucial for migrant's families, often representing more than 50 per cent of their income. These funds allow families to address their basics needs such as food, housing, health and education, but also help them to raise their living standards above subsistence levels. They can help rebuild the fabric of societies, spark economic development, and bring stability necessary for a hopeful future.
For years, migrants worked in the shadows of globalisation while their remittances went uncounted by governments and aid agencies.
Over the past 15 years, however, the true size of their contribution has come to light, and most importantly the opportunities these funds present in helping families and communities escape poverty.
Generally, remittances have been on an upward trend and this is spurring financial institutions to increase the range of products they have available for the Diaspora.
Financial services to this segment of the market are offered through a wide array of accounts.
Because they are eager for customers, Kenyans in the Diaspora and their financial advisors back home can “shop” for the bank that will both respond to their needs and serve them well.
It then pays to invest time learning about local banks and compare their terms on similar products of interest to you.
It is also necessary to talk to the bank staff. Find out how they can help you. It should be remembered that it is the customer who chooses the bank; the bank does not choose them.
The advantages of using banks or microfinance institutions (MFIs) for remittance transfers include the ability to buy linked products.
Also, the recipients of the remittances have access to a wide range of financial products. Such products include savings accounts, loans, mortgages, credit cards and insurance.
To cater to the financial and investment needs of this segment of the population, innovative banks offer products and services that not only enable these Kenyans to transfer money but also invest back home.
Some banks have tailor-made banking facilities designed for Kenyans living, working or studying abroad to meet their unique financial needs.
Kenyans in the Diaspora are using banks such as Co-operative Bank of Kenya to send money to their families back home. Co-operative Bank offers them a number of options for remitting money.
More information on these Co-operative Bank remittances options is available HERE