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20.03.2008 Europe

BETTER DEAL FOR SOMALIS WHO SEND MONEY HOME

By Sarah Thoms

People sending money to family and friends in Somalia stand to get a better deal with the launch today of a programme to boost transparency and competition among money transfer companies.
The DFID-backed 'Send Money Home' for Somalis programme introduces a new consumer advice leaflet and a dedicated page on the free, independent money transfer price comparison website www.sendmoneyhome.org to help Somalis find the best deal for their needs.
The new leaflet and Send Money Home website will enable consumers to search and compare the services provided by international payment companies highlighting transfer methods, costs, and speed of transfer.

Printed in Somali and English, the leaflet will be distributed through community outlets, Local Councils, Citizen Advice Bureaux, internet cafes and Somali Diaspora organisations, or can be downloaded from the Send Money Home website, or by phoning 0207 100 5655.

International Development Minister Gillian Merron said:
"Previously there was no concise, readily available information to help families find the best deal for sending money to Somalia. By providing better information and transparency, this programme will give greater confidence to the Somali community in the UK, and their families, and will also boost the fight against poverty in Somalia.

"Remittances to Somalia strengthen the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of families and help develop the private sector in a country where foreign assistance has fallen short and foreign investment has been virtually non-existent. In a region where 43 per cent of people live in extreme poverty, remittances improve living standards. They have helped people start businesses, increased access to education and helped fund the development of hospitals and other key infrastructure."

Chair of the All party Group on Somaliland, Alun Michael, said:
"My constituency, Cardiff South & Penarth, has been the home of a thriving Somali community for well over a century and currently hosts the largest British-born Somali population in the UK. I myself have developed and maintained long standing ties with this community - which for the most part pre-date my days as a Westminster MP. As such I am delighted to see action being taken which will foster greater transparency and reliability in a system which effectively constitutes a lifeline for a huge number of Somalis."

Emmanuel Addy, Director of Profile Business Intelligence, which runs the Send Money Home programme on behalf of DFID, said:
"The Send Money Home project has proven to be an extremely valuable tool, providing essential information for those sending money to family or friends, and has been helping Diaspora communities throughout the UK for nearly three years.

"We are delighted to provide information on the best way to send money home for the benefit of the Somali Diaspora which, we hope, will stimulate competition amongst money transfer providers encouraging them to deliver better products and services."

People in the UK send an estimated £2.3 billion a year to families and communities in over 50 developing countries – a key source of overseas funds for many economies. Yet many find the process difficult and insecure.

According to DFID research, the biggest worry for those sending money is whether it will arrive safely, followed by excessive charges and delays to relatives receiving the money.

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