As a Brazilian, I am always sending money into the country. I grew up in rural Brazil and my family moved us over to the United States in the 70s so my father could open a paint business. And even though I have family steadily streaming into America, nearly half of my family still resides in the rural state Amazonas, located between Venezuela and Columbia in Northeast Brazil.
For years Amazonas was – and still is – one of the poorest of the Brazilian states. The industrial sector has put a new spin on things though, making Brazil a major worldwide competitor. My family has taken advantage by working in fields or manufacturing factories in Manaus helping to produce rubber.
In Manaus – once a lively, booming city in the 1800s – you will discover manufacture factories for cell phones, electronics and motorcycles. Agriculture makes up only about 4% of all of the GDP (gross domestic product). The rubber industry on the other hand, has brought luxury, but along with it comes the dangers such as poor working conditions and overworked employees. The rubber industry has also been affected by plantations in Southeast Asia, set in place by the British and Dutch.
The large cities eventually went downhill, so my father moved to the U.S. and sent money to us back in Brazil. Sometimes it would take months for the mail courier to deliver the cash we needed. In the meanwhile, my mom saved up money so we could afford food, clothes and the roof over our heads. With the money saved, my siblings and I were able to get an education and I was finally able to migrate to the U.S. to assist my dad with the payments we would send money to Brazil. I even met and married a gorgeous woman from San Paulo and we started a family here in the U.S.
Still, I continue transferring over money monthly. The hard part was actually getting it there though. First I tried a mail courier which was an absolute nightmare considering it never even arrived at its destination. Then I tried a financial institution, which gobbled up about $100 of the $300 I was trying to send.
Finally I turned to the web to transfer over the funds. At first I sensed the hesitation from my Aunt and Uncle when the FedEx van presented a simple plastic card, since they were so accustomed to cash. Over time they began appreciating the security not offered through cash. Not only that but all of a sudden my relatives were getting the $300 originally intended for them. It’s amazing to see our grassroots effort single handedly aid in the reduction of poverty within our own family. Now cousins of mine have been able to go to college or even work for big-time manufacturers in the accounting department. My aunts and uncles have also been able to buy land and booming acai berries or special fruit and vegetable crops.
So if you’re like me and you are constantly transferring money to Brazil, you should really look into the different forms because even the slightest savings can have a massive impact on poverty levels in Brazil.