Remittances, which begin as simple financial transfers from an immigrant or a migrant worker thousands of miles away to their families back home, are not only lifeblood to their relatives and communities in the home country, but also are frequently critical to the entire national economy of whole countries. According to the Inter-American Development Bank remittances are a significant component of many developing countries’ GNP and far outstrip inputs of foreign aid or private investment from other countries.
Over and over, the countries where ACORN International members and partners live come up high on the list of remittance beneficiaries: India, Mexico, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Philippines and Korea, especially. This matters to us in a deeply personal and very national way in both our home countries and our adopted countries where we have family. Clearly, remittances are valuable to immigrant families and their relatives. There are many developing countries where a primary export is migrant labor and a critical import is remittance dollars. Yet, central banks and global financial institutions seem impotent in the face of money transfer organizations and banks.
ACORN International has come up with a remittance grid which shows the costs that are attached to sending money overseas. We found that most of these costs are hidden, some even unavailable to the general public. We focused on ten (10) countries in which ACORN International has head offices and/or we are partnered with. We chose several major institutions of both the United States and Canada and gathered data on what costs are attached to sending a $100 remittance from Toronto, Canada or New Orleans, Louisiana, in Canadian and American Dollars respectively to the ten countries where we work. We choose $100 because it is most common according to both our members and outside studies.