On June 16, nearly 240 high school students and their teachers participated at a Greenback Runmittance Treasure Hunt in Berat, Albania. The participants followed a predetermined trail with multiple pit stops where they solved financial service riddles, receiving a financial education crash course on some specific services.
While the concept of receiving money from family members abroad was known to students who attended the run, some learned the term “remittance” for the first time..
Remittances still are of particular importance for the Albanian economy and, on average, represent more than one-third of household income. These incoming flows contribute to purchases of basic household need such as groceries, consumer goods and paying for utility bills. In fact, more than 60 percent of Albanian families who receive remittances would not be able to cover basic family needs.
Berat receives the second largest amount of remittances per capita in Albania and various opportunities of leveraging remittances for broader economic development of the city have been identified as part of the project. In this context, effectively channeling and managing remittances is a big challenge for families in Albania as the transfer costs for migrants sending funds back home by regulated channels are very high. A lack of trust and awareness of different remittance channels often leads to risky choice. There is little guidance on long term planning so very few families can make effective use of the funds they receive.
The event was funded by the Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs (SECO) and implemented by World Bank, Bank of Albania and Junior Achievement in close collaboration with local authorities and the Ministry of Education. Project Greenback is part of the Remittances and Payments Program funded by SECO aiming at improving retail payments and the efficiency of remittance flow into a number of countries. Thus, the project links senders and receivers of remittances, public authorities and service providers.
The Treasure Hunt is an example of the Project Greenback approach by the World Bank. In essence, Project Greenback uses an innovative bottom-up approach to remittances reform: working locally to promote a healthy marketplace globally. It promotes change inspired by the real needs of the ultimate beneficiaries of remittances – that is, the migrants and their families at home.