International Development

The Expatriate Foundation is committed to support direct and indirect programs that ensure continuous improvement of human well-being across the globe. The development of a greater quality of life for humans in the form of foreign aid (micro loans), gender equality, human rights, business/hr education and training are all efforts to alleviate human suffering – particularly aimed at improving living conditions in previously colonized countries.

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Socially Responsible Investments

Current number of Micro Loans sponsored by the Expatriate Foundation:  11

Current number of countries assisted by Expatriate Foundation Micro Loans: 65

Current list of countries assisted by Expatriate Foundation Micro Loans:

Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malawi, Mali, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Samoa, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, United States, Uruguay, Zambia

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International development projects may consist of a single, trans-formative project to address a specific problem or a series of projects targeted at several aspects of society. Promoted projects involve problem solving that reflects the unique culture, politics, geography, and the economy of a region; noting that empowering people, building economies, and caring for the environment are all imperative goals.

 

Myanmar: A Blueprint for International Development?

By: Gib Bulloch July 30, 2013 www.businessweek.com
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I was never a good footballer. Besides an innate lack of ability, there was another reason for my ineptitude: The best footballers don’t chase madly after the ball as I did. They anticipate where the ball is going and move there. So it should be with international development.

Much is being made of the reopening of Myanmar to the global economy. Barely a week goes by without another multinational announcing a commitment to invest in the country. At the World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting last month, Coca-Cola (KO) Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent compared the opening of the company’s first Myanmar bottling facility to the fall of the Berlin Wall. That’s a grand vision. But really, what does all this economic development mean for a country with a population of 60 million mostly rural people, 76 percent of whom lack access to electricity and more than 90 percent of whom lack access to a mobile phone?

From a development perspective, Myanmar may be a blank canvas, but the brushes are digital. Myanmar has the potential to go beyond all the traditional emerging-market development models. There was once a time when partnerships between business and the public sector were seen as cutting-edge. But now we need to look at alternative, newer models as well. For example, what are the appropriate roles of partnerships between two or more businesses? As its economy reopens to large multinationals, now could be the perfect time to find out, and the country could become a blueprint for a new kind of international development.

Development efforts in Myanmar and other emerging-market economies have typically focused on leapfrogging, a term that conjures up an image of accelerated progress. Taken literally, though, leapfrog is just another playground game characterized by repetitive activity that leads to incremental change. To realize its promise as a development hub for global companies, however, Myanmar must strive for transformational change.

Myanmar and those investing in the country need to think big. Why focus on building an ATM network in Myanmar—an idea raised at one WEF summit discussion—rather than advancing directly to creating the ability to dispense mobile money?  What long-term value can be gained by investing in old technology?

A much better idea for Myanmar is the development of a mobile network. In June the government awarded two major contracts for developing such a network. As the project takes shape, the successful bidders should give serious thought to rural off-grid electrification, which creates both business and development challenges and opportunities. Successful rural electrification can help transform agriculture by providing mobile-enabled services such as microfinance, crop insurance, or weather information. Additionally, electrification and mobile connectivity can significantly improve the prospects for developing a next-generation health system.

Addressing the health-care challenge need not be confined solely to health-care companies. Since Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (PEP) have ambitions in Myanmar, what role might they play in transforming health distribution systems for essential medicines by bringing their supply-chain expertise to bear? And in education, how might the growing financial-services community turn the economic potential of Myanmar’s talent into an “asset class” for investment today?

To be clear, this is not about ignoring the critical role of government; it’s about changing it from acting as a “service deliverer” to a “choreographer” across a diverse set of partners and stakeholders.

Myanmar is a rich country filled with poor people who have high hopes. Meeting their expectations will require a new approach to economic development: namely a strategy for footballers—not leapfroggers—that can successfully marry the best of the old with the best of the new.

 

in Doha theguardian.com,

Qatar’s foreign domestic workers subjected to slave-like conditions

Revelations of mistreatment of maids and cleaners add to picture of widespread labour abuse in World Cup host nation.

Foreign maids, cleaners and other domestic workers are being subjected to slave-like labour conditions in Qatar, with many complaining they have been deprived of passports, wages, days off, holidays and freedom to move jobs, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Hundreds of Filipino maids have fled to their embassy in recent months because conditions are so harsh. Many complain of physical and sexual abuse, harassment, long periods without pay and the confiscation of mobile phones.

The exploitation raises further concerns about labour practices in Qatar in advance of the World Cup, after Guardian reports about the treatment of construction workers. The maids are not directly connected to Qatar’s preparations for the football tournament, but domestic workers will play a big role in staffing the hotels, stadiums and other infrastructure that will underpin the 2022 tournament.

Our investigation reveals:

• The Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) sheltered more than 600 runaway maids in the first six months of 2013 alone.

• Some workers say they have not been paid for months.

• Many housemaids do not get days off.

• Some contracts and job descriptions are changed once the workers arrive in Qatar.

• Women who report a sexual assault can be charged with illicit relations.

The non-payment of wages, confiscation of documents and inability of workers to leave their employer constitute forced labour under UN rules. According to the International Labour Organisation, forced labour is “all work which is exacted from someone under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”.

Lack of consent can include induced indebtedness and deception about the type and terms of work, withholding or non-payment of wages and the retention of identity documents. Initial consent may be considered irrelevant when deception or fraud has been used to obtain it.

“Menace of penalty” can include physical violence, deprivation of food and shelter, non-payment of wages, the inability to repay a loan, exclusion from future employment and removal of rights and privileges.

Modern-day slavery is estimated to affect up to 21 million people across the globe.

When the Guardian visited in January, at least 35 runaway maids had sought sanctuary at the POLO in the capital, Doha, which provides support to 200,000 Filipinos in Qatar. The welfare officer said most complained of pay being withheld, insufficient food, overwork and maltreatment. Some said they had endured verbal and physical abuse by sponsors of different nationalities.

Eight Filipino workers interviewed by the Guardian said they had not been paid for six months, were sometimes deprived of food while cleaning for long hours and had had their passports confiscated.

“We are afraid,” said 28-year-old Jane*. “We don’t really know what to do. We are trying to survive. That’s why we do part-time jobs secretly.” If they are caught breaching their contract, the maids face months in a deportation centre. The repatriation process is often delayed when people do not have their passports, according to James Lynch, Amnesty International’s researcher on Gulf migrants’ rights.

Qatar vigorously denies it is a “slave state” and is understood to be reviewing the controversial system that governs migrant labour, and to have stepped up inspections of businesses that use migrant labour. The Qatari labour ministry said in a statement: “We have clear laws and contractual terms in place to protect all people who live and work in Qatar and anyone found to have broken those laws will be prosecuted accordingly.” It said that non-payment of wages and confiscation of passports were illegal in Qatar, and added: “The vast majority of workers in Qatar – domestic or otherwise – work amicably, save money and send this home to improve the economic situation of their families and communities in their home countries.”

But the Philippines-based OFW (Overseas Foreign Workers) Watch, which supports Filipino migrant workers, said physical abuse, delayed and refused salaries, the misrepresentation of employers and contracts and passport confiscations were common issues in Qatar. The Guardian has already highlighted this malpractice in its investigation into the mistreatment of migrant workers as Qatar gears up for the 2022 World Cup.

As with the construction workers, the abuse of maids is systemic and brought into sharp focus by a lack of legal protection and the kafala sponsorship system, under which workers cannot leave the country or change jobs without their employer’s permission, Lynch said.

“The women we’ve spoken to who have suffered abuses in the workplace, ranging from excessive working hours to physical violence, their employers came from a variety of countries,” he added.

Many maids say they do not get any rest days and that employers confiscate their mobile phones.

Several recruitment agencies contacted by phone told a Guardian reporter pretending to be a would-be client that they routinely withheld the passports of their migrant workers. One agency volunteered that it was up to the sponsor whether the maid had a day off. “If you want to give an off day, let them rest at your house,” an Al Hadeel Manpower representative said. “Don’t give them free days outside because there is more problems outside.”

Domestic workers are not covered by Qatar’s labour laws and cannot challenge their contracts in court.

François Crépeau, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said he was told during his eight-day visit to Doha in November that if some sponsors disliked the maid, they could have her arrested for theft. “These are all hearsay stories, but it was quite frequent,” he said.

Crépeau, who will present a report of his Qatar trip to the UN in June, said he saw about 100 maids at the Philippine labour office waiting to be moved to the deportation centre, which housed about 1,300 people when he visited. He also visited the Central Prison, where he found women imprisoned with their babies as they served one-year sentences for adultery because they were unmarried.

Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said some imprisoned babies were conceived when their mothers were raped by their employers.

The penalty for rape in Qatar is life imprisonment and, under some circumstances, death. Sexual harassment is illegal, but women who report such cases risk being charged with having illicit relations.

“They’ve become enslaved in Qatar, forced into abusive relationships, often become pregnant as a result of forced sexual relationships or rape and then the perpetrator has total power and refuses to sign an exit visa, so they end up imprisoned,” Burrow said.

Crescente Relacion, the Philippine ambassador to Qatar, who declined to be interviewed but issued a written response to Guardian questions, said the embassy had assisted the fewer than five expatriates who had filed such charges with police in 2013. “Some victims have decided to settle amicably or not to file charges as doing so would significantly delay the repatriation,” he said.

Case study

One runaway maid, Vanessa, fled to the Philippine women’s shelter with only the clothes she was wearing because she said her employers of four years had cancelled her flight back home and confiscated her belongings for shouting at their children.

Vanessa said she had not had a day off in four years, but she did not regard playing with the children as work. She alleges the Indian mother of the family that employed her struck her because she did not want Vanessa to feed her infant son. “She hit my face because, yes, I admit that it’s my fault because I fed the baby,” she said. “What I didn’t accept is that they took everything.”

Among the items were precious photographs of her 10-year-old daughter, whom she has seen once during her only holiday, when she visited her mother in the Philippines in 2011, her mobile phone and 42,500 pesos (£580), she said. “Maybe they’re telling to the police that I steal, but only God knows.”

Because of the kafala system, Vanessa could not simply turn her back on her job or seek alternative employment. She is tethered to the employer via the sponsor who supports her migrant status in Qatar. She was faced with an unpleasant choice: tolerate the abuse or run away.

*Names withheld to protect identities